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Google lays off 12,000 globally, impact on Seattle area workers unclear

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SEATTLE — In another blow to the tech job market, Google parent company Alphabet announced Friday its plans to lay off 12,000 employees, more than 6% of its workforce, across several locations and departments. The impact on the Seattle area remained unclear Friday, despite social media posts by local employees who have been laid off.

“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth,” Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post Friday. “To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”

Google’s workforce grew during the pandemic to nearly 187,000 by late last year, from 119,000 at the end of 2019, according to regulatory filings.

The impact of the company’s biggest-ever round of layoffs on U.S. jobs, including Seattle-area positions, remained unclear Friday. Google has 7,200 employees in Washington, making it one of the top 25 employers in 2022, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Google spokesperson Ryan Lamont declined to disclose how many employees in Washington will be affected.

The Mountain View, California-based tech giant has several offices in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond. Google describes its engineering presence in Washington as its second largest after the Bay Area.

Google’s footprint in Washington has expanded in recent years. The company entered Washington in 2004 with an engineering outpost in Kirkland. In 2019, it opened its South Lake Union offices — increasing total office space by half. Last year, it opened another office space in Kirkland. Google has at least 4 million square feet of office space across the four Washington cities.

But a proposed Google expansion in Kirkland will not go forward, the city announced Friday. Google had planned to develop 10 acres of land, currently housing a Lee Johnson Chevrolet car dealership, into four buildings that would accommodate as many as 6,000 Google workers. Google notified the city and the property owners it would not be buying and proceeding with the proposed redevelopment project.

Alphabet’s layoffs come at the end of a week that saw other tech giants announce layoffs affecting their global workforces, including Washington workers. Out of 18,000 roles that Seattle-based Amazon announced in its global layoffs Wednesday, 2,300 jobs were in Seattle and Bellevue. On the same day, Redmond-based Microsoft announced it was laying off 10,000 globally. At least 878 Microsoft positions in the Seattle area will be affected, according to a notice by the Washington State Employment Security Department.

The Google cuts will include layoffs at the company’s AI division, according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg.

Google has long been seen as the industry leader in AI technology. Pichai once called the field more profound than fire or electricity. But Google has also faced existential threats from outsiders, with the latest challenge coming in the form of an experimental chatbot called ChatGPT from the research lab OpenAI, which could be getting a significant investment from Microsoft.

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