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OC’s Tech Industry Spared Big Layoffs

Local Cuts seen at Amazon, Google

Orange County hasn’t been immune from the recent waves of layoffs among some of the tech industry’s giants, though local cuts haven’t been nearly as drastic as seen in other parts of the West Coast.

Tech behemoths Amazon and Google have announced a total of over 170 layoffs in OC since December, according to state employment data.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL), which operates locally out of the Google Center office campus along Jamboree Road in Irvine, said in late January it was letting go of 32 area workers. It’s just a fraction of the 12,000 workers or about 6% of its workforce that it plans to shed companywide.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), meanwhile, has announced a total of 139 area cuts, across multiple locations and divisions in Irvine.

Cuts include over 50 positions at an Amazon distribution center it operates along Von Karman Avenue, while the rest are at the company’s offices in the Spectrum area of the city.

Companywide, the Amazon layoffs reportedly could affect up to 18,000 people.

Other big tech firms in the state that have announced large rounds of cuts of late, including Facebook, Intel and Salesforce, don’t have significant operations in OC.

Tech giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) seems to be bucking the layoff trend, at least in Orange County.

Apple, which is setting up a semiconductor outpost in Irvine, had postings for more than 30 local positions as of the end of last month with no area job losses reported in state filings as of last week.

Falling Unemployment

While national reports of the tech industry layoffs have been headline makers, the job market remains robust in OC.

The county’s unemployment rate fell to 2.5% in December from a revised 3.0% in November and below the 3.7% rate seen in December last year, according to the most recent figures from the state’s Employment Development Department.

California’s unemployment rate was 3.7% in December while the U.S.’s was 3.3%.

Local Cuts

Restructuring efforts are hitting some tech firms with longstanding operational bases in the area.

Irvine-based CalAmp Corp. (Nasdaq: CAMP) said on Jan. 27 it has “initiated a restructuring plan to reduce approximately 8% of its employees across various functions.” The company, which provides software and equipment enabling companies to track their vehicles, had 851 employees companywide as of July.

CalAmp, led by CEO Jeff Gardner, said that it expects revenue to be “relatively flat” quarter-on-quarter in the current three-month period, after a significant volume of shipments in the previous quarter.

The cuts are being made as CalAmp refocuses its efforts on its growing software and subscription services business model.

Memory products maker Western Digital Corp. (Nasdaq: WDC) in November informed California state officials it planned to permanently lay off 62 employees in Irvine as of Jan. 13. The company was long based in OC, but moved its headquarters designation to Silicon Valley several years ago.

Digital ad tech company Viant Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: DSP) in Irvine told regulators in December that it was reducing its workforce by 46 employees, about 13% of the company’s workforce. The move was designed to cut operating expenses and help the company focus on key priorities in the face of the “adverse macroeconomic environment,” according to Viant.

EV Hits

Orange County’s large and growing hub of electric vehicle makers and related businesses continue to face ups and downs.

The city of Cypress is losing its new Romeo Power battery manufacturing plant to a new site in Arizona, parent company Nikola Corp. (Nasdaq: NKLA) said last month. The number of jobs losses at the Cypress base, set up just last year, hasn’t been specified. The spot was designed to hold several hundred workers.

EV maker Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN), one of OC’s fastest-growing tech firms the past few years, said last summer it planned to lay off 143 employees in Orange County effective Oct. 7.

Rivian, which counts 14,000 employees companywide, disclosed last week another round of cuts, affecting 6% of its worker base, was in the works.

Locations for the cuts weren’t immediately disclosed.

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal
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