Amazon is freezing corporate hiring in its stores business, the retail arm of the company that includes online and physical stores, its marketplace for third-party sellers and Amazon Prime subscription service.
The news came out Tuesday after The New York Times reviewed an email Amazon sent to recruiters informing them that all open job requisitions in that division should be closed in the coming days. The hiring freeze is expected to last at least through the end of 2022.
Amazon declined to say how this hiring freeze would affect its Seattle headquarters or its offices around Puget Sound, still considered the heart of its white-collar workforce.
“Amazon continues to have a significant number of open roles available across the company,” spokesperson Brad Glasser told The Seattle Times. “We have many different businesses at various stages of evolution, and we expect to keep adjusting our hiring strategies in each of these businesses at various junctures.”
Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky indicated in July Amazon may slow its hiring, matching a broad trend in the tech workforce. “I think it’s right for people to step back and question their hiring plans,” he said on a call with investors. “I don’t think you’ll see us hiring at the same pace as we did over the past few years.”
Amazon would continue to hire, he added, particularly in areas that help “grow products for customers,” like Amazon Web Services and advertising.
The latest hiring freeze will not impact AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing division, or its warehouse workers, The New York Times reported. Some roles, such as student hiring and field positions, were exempt from the pause, the email said.
In Seattle, Amazon has 55,000 employees and has been on a hiring spree outside of the city to expand its Puget Sound presence. It hit 10,000 employees in Bellevue this summer and hopes to raise that number to 25,000 in the next three years.
It has been expanding outside Seattle city limits to tap into tech talent already on the Eastside, meet workers where they want to live and to grow in a “business-friendly” regulatory environment, according to Guy Palumbo, Amazon’s director of public policy for HQ1.
Amazon declined also to disclose what portion of the anticipated 25,000-person Bellevue workforce would be new hires or transfers from other offices in the region.
Like Amazon, many tech companies have moved to slow or freeze hiring this year, facing economic pressures. Google’s parent company Alphabet said in July it would slow hiring for the rest of the year. Microsoft cut some jobs that same month, including in its Azure cloud business and security software unit. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said last month it was reducing its head count for the first time in company history.
“I had hoped the economy would have more clearly stabilized by now,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees. “But from what we’re seeing it doesn’t yet seem like it has, so we want to plan somewhat conservatively.”
While tech companies are pausing hiring, other employers in Washington are ramping up. This summer, more companies posted job openings in Washington state than almost anywhere else in the U.S., according to data released late last month. At the end of July, the state recorded 213,000 job openings, with one of the highest month-over-month increase rates in the nation.
At the time of Amazon’s hiring freeze announcement, there were more than 10,000 job openings posted in the stores division, according to The New York Times.
Amazon told recruiters not to call its latest move a hiring freeze, the email read, but that all open job requisitions should be closed in the coming days.
New openings will be available next year, Amazon confirmed Tuesday.
The division that now faces a hiring freeze went through a leadership change this summer when its chief executive, Dave Clark, stepped down after 23 years with the company.
During his time in charge of the stores business, Clark oversaw a mass expansion of Amazon’s logistics footprint as the company struggled to match its physical capacity to the large amount of orders from homebound consumers during the pandemic. Amazon doubled the size of its operations and nearly doubled its workforce in the past two years.
But as the worst of the pandemic eased, Amazon has found itself with too many workers and too much space. CEO Andy Jassy has told investors that the company is now focused on controlling costs and efficiency in its warehouse and logistics operations.
Following Clark’s departure, Doug Herrington took over the stores division after 17 years with the company. Herrington previously led Amazon’s North American consumer business and helped launch Amazon Fresh.