Anything affecting the Seattle’s largest private-sector employer demands attention. Are Amazon layoffs a big deal, omen or business as usual?

Share story

This week Amazon began hundreds of layoffs at its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere. As my colleague Matt Day reported, it’s highly unusual, yet it’s still a small slice of the company’s 40,000 employees here.

An Amazon spokesman issued the anodyne statement, “As part of our annual planning process, we are making head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others. For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring.”

It could well be needed consolidation after rapid growth, paring down some retail areas and/or Jeff Bezos offering Wall Street evidence of Amazon’s cost control at the human level (our onetime little online bookstore employs 566,000 worldwide — the second-largest U.S.-based corporate employer).

Still, with the search for a “fully equal” second headquarters, do the cutbacks mean more? With Big Tech stocks arguably overvalued (AMZN just surpassed Microsoft in market value, if only briefly), is this blistering hot sector headed for a fall? Anything affecting the city’s largest private-sector employer demands attention.

Some comments in the story are interesting. On the bright side, one person wrote, “…this is good for the rest of Seattle as these are bright hard working people who will do just fine in the other companies that have located here in Seattle.” True enough. But “Jeff Bezos… isn’t going to be around forever, and his immediate successors could very well see things much differently, like maybe it doesn’t make much practical sense to keep Amazon’s primary headquarters located in Seattle.” (Sadly, there are plenty of “Amazon ruined Seattle” trolls who think cities without Seattle’s economy are doing better.)

What do you think?


This Week’s Links:

The president’s new budget — sorry, but attention must be paid | Jared Bernstein

Landing a jumbo is getting easier | Liberty Street Economics

The robots are coming for garment workers | The Wall Street Journal

The disappointing recovery in U.S. output after 2009 | San Francisco Fed

Network effects, big data and antitrust issues for Big Tech | Tim Taylor

Can Uber ever deliver? | Naked Capitalism

Will Republicans be able to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Board? | The Washington Post


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Stocks go down and up

Too bad your wage is stagnant

So the Dow is bull