AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, a senior Amazon employee posted a memo online about hiring changes at the company over concerns of a recession.
“With the economy in an uncertain place and in light of how many people we have hired in the last few years, Andy and S-team decided this week to pause on new incremental hires in our corporate workforce,” wrote Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of People Experience and Technology at Amazon.
She said they had already paused hiring in other areas over the last few weeks and plan to hold the pause for the next few months.
“In general, depending on the business or area of the company, we will hire backfills to replace employees who move on to new opportunities, and there are some targeted places where we will continue to hire people incrementally,” Galetti said in the memo. “We’re facing an unusual macro-economic environment, and want to balance our hiring and investments with being thoughtful about this economy.”
Amazon is one of the Austin area’s largest employers, with about 11,000 workers.
KXAN asked the company how those hiring practices would impact the Austin workforce.
“We are going to keep watching the economy and our own business and will adjust as makes sense, but our long-term intention and commitment to the communities where we have a presence remains unchanged,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to KXAN.
This comes in the wake of reports that one of the area’s other largest employers, Apple, is also initiating a hiring freeze, according to KXAN’s media partners at the Austin Business Journal, via Business Insider.
According to the reports, the tech giant would possibly be holding off on hiring new employees through next September.
It’s unclear if those hiring changes will impact Apple’s new campus under construction in North Austin, which is supposed to house thousands of new employees.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced a hiring freeze back in May, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they were now intensifying, in the company’s latest earnings report last week.
“Given the continued trends, this is even more of a focus now than it was last quarter. Our plan is to steadily reduce headcount growth over the next year,” Zuckerberg said.
Company spokesperson, Andrea Beasley, said these hiring changes also impact Austin.
She also confirmed the company won’t be moving into the downtown high-rise it is leasing.
“We are currently evaluating our real estate portfolio globally and making focused, balanced investments to support our most strategic long-term priorities and lead the way in creating the workplace of the future,” she said.
Smaller tech companies in the Austin area have announced layoffs.
State documents show the autonomous driving company, Argo AI LLC, is laying off up to 78 workers in Austin after the business, backed by Ford, announced late last week that it was shutting down.
According to documents, those layoffs began this week at both their East 7th Street and Congress Avenue locations.
Iron Ox, the robotic farming company, confirmed to the ABJ it is laying off half of its workers.
More layoffs looming? What you should know
Brian Levy with Lynch Law Firm said they expect more employees to be affected amid economic uncertainty, and they want workers to know their rights.
“Generally, employees who are laid off are entitled to unemployment benefits. And they should contact the Texas Workforce Commission to arrange for those benefits,” he said.
He also said the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) might come into play.
The federal law requires companies with 100 or more workers to give at least 60 days advance written notice of a site closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more workers.
“This gives employees time to find a new job,” Levy explained.
He said there are some exceptions, and the company can also pay you lost wages and benefits instead of giving a notice.
Impact to Austin’s economy
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, there’s been some slowdown, but we’ve added jobs here, too,” said economist Matt Patton, executive vice president of Angelou Economics.
He said despite the recent hits to the tech industry, investors still see Austin as a hotspot.
“When we look at venture capital funding, most of that activity is taking place in the state of Texas, it’s taking place in Austin,” Patton said.
He said that means there’s still a lot of opportunity for workers.
“Regardless of what company they might be with right now, there are other opportunities, because that startup and entrepreneurial scene is so strong in Austin,” he said.
Patton said Austin’s economy is also diverse, which makes it resilient.
“We still have a huge presence of other industries; our largest employer in Austin is HEB,” he pointed out. “After that, we’re looking at things like Dell, which is tech-based, but then it’s also Ascension, right, so healthcare. We also have a strong and growing manufacturing base. So, it’s not all just tech or computer-oriented things.”