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Amazon job openings have fallen 19% companywide in five months — but the tally is still more than 30,000

Benjamin Romano, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

SEATTLE -- In the last five months, Amazon job listings decreased about 19% globally, but still number more than 30,000. In the company's headquarters city of Seattle, listings are off 36%.

Amazon has more openings in Seattle -- about 7,300 -- than any other single location, down from about 11,500 in early February.

That was before the coronavirus pandemic upended all aspects of life, driving a wave of business to Amazon -- which made 175,000 temporary hires in its warehouses and transportation network this spring -- while much of the rest of the economy shut down, causing widespread unemployment.

The Seattle-area's role as a technology hub has insulated it to a certain extent. King County's unemployment rate was 14.3% in May. (The June update is due next week.) But employment in the information industry, which includes many technology jobs, was up 2.8% in 12 months ended in May. Professional, scientific and technical services employment also increased slightly in that period, according to preliminary data from the Washington Employment Security Department.

"Seattle has fared better in terms of job openings, hiring, adding head count" than other markets in the West, said Megan Slabinski, Seattle-based district president at professional staffing firm Robert Half Technology, where she oversees the technology practice for western North America. (The company counts Amazon as a client, and as such could not comment on its hiring plans.)

Slabinski said about 1,000 new technology job openings have been posted in the Seattle area in the last week, which was typical of recent weeks, compared to about 1,500 a week before the pandemic.

 

"Technology hiring here remains really challenging," she said. "The pandemic has actually driven a lot of IT project needs for companies."

Meanwhile, would-be candidates who currently have jobs are reluctant to trade job security for new opportunities, reducing turnover and the new job openings that might have generated, Slabinski and others watching hiring trends said.

"Some organizations are reporting some of the lowest turnover they've seen in years," said Tauseef Rahman, who focuses on talent and hiring strategies as a San Francisco-based partner at consulting firm Mercer. Some employers are looking to transfer employees to busier parts of their businesses to avoid layoffs or the need to make outside hires, he added.

The success many employers have had with remote work -- and the potential that it may continue through the pandemic and beyond -- is opening their eyes to recruitment opportunities outside the Seattle market, Slabinksi said.

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