Overstaffed: Amazon and Walmart have a surprising problem

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Overstaffed

We've made a number of charts in recent months about how tight the labor market is and how hard it's been for companies to get enough workers. So it was a bit of a shock this week to hear that Walmart and Amazon — America's biggest private employers — both reported being overstaffed in the first quarter of this year.

COVID's fault

Amazon, which has grown into a 1.6 million strong workforce in record speed, reported that as COVID-19 subsided in the second half of the quarter and employees returned from leave, the company quickly went from being understaffed to overstaffed, which resulted in $2bn of extra costs. For years Amazon has been on a hiring spree — that might have finally changed.

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Overstaffed: Amazon and Walmart have a surprising problem