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It's another mass layoff announcement from the tech sector — this time from Amazon

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Another week, another mass layoff announcement from the tech sector. In a memo to employees today, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company is cutting another 9,000 jobs. NPR's Andrea Hsu reports. And we will note that Amazon is among NPR supporters and pays to distribute some of our content.

ANDREA HSU, BYLINE: Andy Jassy first forecast that layoffs were coming to Amazon last fall. The company had grown rapidly in the pandemic, as demand for online services soared. Its overall headcount doubled in size, from 2019 to 2021, to 1.6 million. But things started to change a lot. Here was Jassy at the New York Times DealBook summit last November, looking back at a wild 2022.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDY JASSY: It looked like we were coming out of the pandemic, and then omicron happened and the war in Ukraine happened and the inflationary environment that we're in happened and, you know, now a very uncertain economy.

HSU: Sure enough, just after the New Year, Jassy announced Amazon was eliminating 18,000 positions. And today, he said 9,000 more would be cut over the next few weeks. The cuts are not in warehouses. They're hitting Amazon's corporate side hard - its cloud computing division, known as Amazon Web Services, its advertising and people teams and Twitch, its video game streaming platform.

ARUN SUNDARUM: This announcement is not a surprise. It seemed like it was just a matter of time before we heard of additional layoffs.

HSU: Arun Sundaram is an analyst with the investment research firm CFRA. He says there could yet be more layoffs at Amazon and elsewhere in tech later this year. It'll really depend, he says, on what's happening more broadly with the economy.

SUNDARUM: From the beginning of this year till today, I think there is a lot more volatility. We've heard of what's happening to the banking sector right now, and I think that raises the risk of a recession this year.

HSU: And so, he says, big tech is playing it safe, reining in spending. Amazon is far from alone in announcing mass layoffs. Google, Microsoft and Salesforce have collectively shed tens of thousands of jobs since January. Last week, Facebook's parent company, Meta, announced its second round of cuts, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling 2023 the year of efficiency. In his note to employees today, Andy Jassy said Amazon would still be doing some limited hiring in strategic areas. One of those areas, Sundaram said, could be health care.

SUNDARUM: About a month ago, they closed on One Medical. It seems like they're still continuing to invest in that health care space and really trying to disrupt that area.

HSU: He says the strategy now appears to be more selective, finding areas that can profitably grow rather than growing the company at all costs.

Andrea Hsu, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrea Hsu is NPR's labor and workplace correspondent.