There are 170,000 fewer retail jobs in 2017—and 75,000 more Amazon robots

Amazon’s headcount is growing by 40% year-over-year. It was the eighth-largest private employer in the US at the end of 2016, and it’s poised to climb those ranks quickly. The online retailer also announced plans to build a second US headquarters that will employ 50,000 employees.

But Amazon’s growth comes at a cost. It has a well-earned reputation for overwhelming competitors. Even though Amazon represents a small portion of the overall retail industry, it dominates the industry’s sales growth.

We wondered: Does Amazon create more jobs than it destroys?

It depends—on whether you are a robot

We assembled employment data for the retail industry as a whole, and for Amazon in particular. We estimated year-end results for 2017, based on current trends.

Here’s what our analysis says:

  1. Assuming the current industry trends continue through the end of the year, the number of employees in Amazon-related retail (that is, retail that Amazon competes with, such as book stores, as opposed to areas it doesn’t compete with, like gas stations) will decline by about 1% year-over-year. While that’s a small percentage, the number of job losses would be 170,000. That would be the first annual decline since 2009.


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