Amazon, historically poised to be one of the biggest employers in the UK, has announced on Thursday that it will cut more than 18,000 jobs, or 6% of its corporate workforce, amid an uncertain US economy.

This is the largest wave of layoffs in the company’s history.

The move follows a wave of redundancy announcements at tech companies in recent months, including 11,000 jobs at Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, up to 6,000 at computer maker HP, 3,750 at Twitter, and 1,300 at Snap.

In a note to employees, Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy cited the uncertain economy and the company’s rapid hiring over the past few years as reasons for the cuts. Jassy stated that the changes will help the company pursue its long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure. He also added that Amazon had weathered “difficult economies” in the past and will continue to do so.

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The layoffs will mostly affect the company’s Stores division, which includes its online retail site as well as its bricks and mortar sites, such as Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go, and its human resources unit. Jassy did not specify where the affected roles were located, but said Amazon would communicate with employees, or where applicable in Europe, with employee representative bodies, from January 18th.

The job cuts represent a swift about-turn for the retailer, which recently doubled its basic pay ceiling to compete more aggressively for talent. The layoffs amount to 6% of Amazon’s roughly 300,000-person corporate workforce, and equate to about 1.2% of the company’s global workforce of more than 1.5 million.

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In addition to the layoffs, Amazon also announced that it had taken out an $8 billion unsecured loan for “general corporate purposes.” The company said it has been using different financing options in recent months amid an “uncertain macroeconomic environment.”

amazon layoffs 2023
File photo: Amazon employees seen outside one of its warehouses

Meanwhile, software maker Salesforce also announced that it would cut 8,000 jobs, or 10% of its workforce. This is the largest layoff in the 23-year history of the San Francisco-based company. The cuts come on the heels of a shake-up in Salesforce’s top ranks. Salesforce workers who lose their jobs will receive nearly five months of pay, health insurance, career resources, and other benefits, according to the company.

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Amazon’s decision to cut more than 18,000 jobs, or 6% of its corporate workforce, amid an uncertain US economy is the largest set of layoffs in the company’s history. This move is part of a larger trend of job cuts and layoffs in the tech industry in recent months due to economic downturn.

amazon layoffs 2023

Companies such as Salesforce, Facebook, and Alphabet (Google‘s parent company) have also announced further layoffs. The layoffs at Salesforce are the largest in the company’s 23-year history, and they come on the heels of a shake-up in the company’s top ranks.

Meanwhile, Salesforce’s former co-CEO, Bret Taylor, and Slack’s co-founder, Stewart Butterfield, have both recently left the company. While these layoffs may be difficult for affected employees, the companies have stated that they will be offering severance packages and job placement support.