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Amazon Begins Its Largest-Ever Layoffs

Amazon.com Inc. is set to begin a round of layoffs ultimately affecting more than 18,000 employees in the largest job cull in its history, which it announced earlier this month.

The cuts come as the retailer grapples with slowing online sales growth and braces for a possible recession affecting the spending power of its customers.

The eliminations started last year and initially fell hardest on Amazon’s Devices and Services group, which builds the Alexa digital assistant and Echo smart speakers. The latest round, scheduled to commence Wednesday, will mostly affect the retail division and human resources.

While the cuts represent only about 1% of the total workforce, which includes hundreds of thousands of hourly warehouse and delivery personnel, they amount to about 6% of Amazon’s 350,000 corporate employees around the globe.

“Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy said earlier this month in a memo to employees. “These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”

Amazon shares were little changed in pre-market trading before exchanges opened in New York after closing down 2.1% at $96.05 on Tuesday.

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