In a rare move for the online retail giant, Amazon is laying off hundreds of corporate workers in its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere, according to a Seattle Times report.
The corporate cuts come after an eight-year hiring spree, taking the company from 5,000 in 2010 to 40,000 in its Seattle headquarters and gobbling up several retail businesses throughout the country.
However, according to the report, Amazon’s rising employee numbers over the last two years left some departments over budget and with too many staff on hand. In the last few months, the company implemented hiring freezes to stem the flow of new workers, cutting the number of open positions in half from the 3,500 listed last Summer.
The layoffs will mainly focus on Amazon’s Seattle office, but there have already been cuts in some of its retail subsidiaries in other parts of the country, such as the Las Vegas-based online footwear retailer Zappos, which had to lay off 30 people recently. And the company behind Diapers.com, Quidsi, had to cut more than 250 jobs a year ago.
The moves suggest Amazon may be trying to rein in spending and consolidate some of its retail businesses.
It’s important to note that cutting out a few hundred workers at a company with tens of thousands of employees is not unusual — and is pretty small in comparison to other established tech giants that have had to lay off far more recently. For instance, Microsoft had to lay off thousands of employees starting late last year — though most of those employees affected were outside of the United States.
The cuts also don’t indicate Amazon, which employs more than half a million people globally, has any intentions of cutting more or of slowing down its hiring practices elsewhere. According to its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company has upped its global workforce by 66 percent over the last year. Amazon currently has more than 4,000 job listings on its site for Seattle.
We have yet to hear back from Amazon about the latest report, but a spokesperson for the company told The Seattle Times the move was part of the company’s annual planning process and that, “We are making head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others.”
According to the report, several employees have already been told they’ve been laid off and those layoffs are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
“For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring,” the spokesperson said.