Amazon has become the latest U.S. technology company to announce major job cuts after hiring “rapidly over the last several years” in the face of the COVID pandemic.
In a message shared with employees Wednesday, CEO Andy Jassy confirmed Amazon plans to “eliminate just over 18,000 roles.” Several areas of the business will be impacted, he noted, but most cuts will happen at Amazon Stores, including Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go, and in its People, Experience, and Technology organization.
It’s the largest set of layoffs in the Seattle-based company’s history, although just a fraction of its 1.5 million global workforce.
“[We] are deeply aware that these role eliminations are difficult for people, and we don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted,” he wrote. “We are working to support those who are affected and are providing packages that include a separation payment, transitional health insurance benefits, and external job placement support.”
According to Jassy, the announcement wasn’t expected to be released this early but was done so after an Amazon teammate reportedly leaked the information. Amazon employees impacted by these job cuts will be informed as early as January 18.
“Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Jassy said. “These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”
In November, Jassy told staff that layoffs were coming due to the economic landscape and the company’s rapid hiring in the last several years. Wednesday’s announcement included earlier job cuts that had not been numbered. The company had also offered voluntary buyouts and has been cutting costs in other areas of its sprawling business.
Business software maker Salesforce also announced job cuts Wednesday. The company plans to lay off about 8,000 employees, or 10% of its workforce.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.