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Amazon Hiring Slows in Seattle, Raising Concern That Momentum Will Shift to New Headquarter Town

According to Business Insider, Amazon is slowing its hiring in Seattle as it plans to open a new headquarters in a yet-to-be-determined city. Here are some highlights of the article:

  • Amazon has been in a hiring frenzy for years but it has slowed down hiring at its Seattle headquarters, according to reports.
  • Some teams in Seattle have been asked to freeze or postpone hiring and take other cost-cutting measures, employees say.
  • Even so, the company is looking to fill nearly 11,000 jobs worldwide, nearly half in its fast-growing cloud computing unit, and is fielding hundreds of bids from cities looking to host its second headquarters.

From Business Insider, Dec. 12, 2017:

As Amazon looks for a new headquarters, its insane pace of hiring is slowing down in Seattle
Amazon has almost 11,000 open job openings listed on its website, which is a stupefying number of employees to be hiring by just about any standards.

Roughly one-third of those jobs, about 3,503, are located at the company’s Seattle headquarters.

But that actually represents a big drop-off in Amazon’s hiring in its hometown, reports the Seattle Times.  The Times found that as recently as June, the company was still looking to hire about 9,000 for its Seattle headquarters and that the current number of job openings in Seattle is the lowest since 2014.

What’s more, a few employees told The Seattle Times’ Matt Day that some departments are being asked to endure some austerity. This includes hiring freezes or hiring postponements in some departments; in one case, cutbacks in travel spending and in other cases reorganizations of teams to reduce redundant jobs or layers of management, Day reports.

As Amazon looks for a city for its second headquarters — with nearly 240 cities bidding for the honor to host Amazon’s second headquarters — the company may be putting the brakes on growth at its main base of operations for now.

Cult of frugality

Amazon has always had a culture of penny pinching. In fact, “frugality” is literally one of the company’s Leadership Principals.” So the latest hiring trends may simply be part of the company’s ongoing efforts to shave costs.

Amazon tells us, “We are constantly evaluating hiring needs to ensure we’re dedicating resources efficiently and effectively, so it’s common for there to be fluctuations in headcount as we grow at different rates across businesses.”

Nearly half of the company’s current job listings, almost 5,300 jobs, are for its fast-growing cloud computing business Amazon Web Services.

And it’s worth noting that Amazon has been on an unprecedented hiring binge for years and in 2017 its employee base swelled an astounding 77% from the end of June to the end of September. This was largely, but not completely, due to the acquisition of Whole Foods. The retail giant now employs 541,900 people, up from 382,400 last quarter and 306,800 a year ago. It is one of only two companies in the nation to employ over half a million people. (The other is Walmart.)

And it is likely to keep hiring at some level in Seattle. Amazon recently signed two new leases for a combined 10,000 square feet of office space, enough to eventually house another 5,000 employees.

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