Apple pauses hiring for many roles besides R&D in escalation of cost cuts

Apple joins other tech giants in tapping the brakes on hiring, a response to sluggish consumer spending and higher interest rates. PHOTO: AFP

CUPERTINO, California – Apple has paused hiring for many jobs outside of those in research and development (R&D), an escalation of an existing plan to reduce budgets heading into next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The company took the step last month, ahead of a quarterly earnings report where it said growth would slow in the holiday period.

The pause generally does not apply to teams working on future devices and long-term initiatives, but it affects some corporate functions and standard hardware and software engineering roles, said the sources, who asked not to be identified as the move is not public.

Apple joins other technology giants in tapping the brakes on hiring, a response to sluggish consumer spending and higher interest rates.

The iPhone maker has fared better than many tech peers this year, but it is still facing an industry-wide slowdown for smartphones and computers.

In a statement, Apple said it continues to hire but that given the current economic environment, it is “taking a very deliberate approach in some parts of the business”.

The company added that it is confident in its future.

“We want to be thoughtful and make smart decisions that enable us to continue fuelling innovation for the long term,” the California-based company said.

Apple shares, which had been up in late trading on Thursday, fell 1 per cent to US$137.55 after Bloomberg News reported on the plans. The shares are down 22 per cent this year, part of a broader pullback for tech stocks.

Some teams within Apple are still able to hire in special circumstances, according to the sources, and the company continues to advertise new roles on its recruiting website.

While new roles remain open, the actual hiring process has largely been placed on hold. 

The move is part of a broader effort to rein in budgets, not backfill roles, and decelerate headcount growth for some teams next year.

Bloomberg first reported on the push in July. As part of the belt-tightening, Apple laid off about 100 contract-based recruiters in August. Insider reported this week that hiring freezes are under way at the company. 

Apple’s fourth-quarter report confirmed that its R&D budget is not getting squeezed. R&D spending rose 20 per cent in fiscal year 2022, compared with a 17 per cent gain in the prior year.

The company continues to work on augmented reality and virtual reality products, as well as an autonomous vehicle. 

Apple said in a filing alongside its earnings report that the growth in R&D spending is “driven primarily by increases in headcount-related expenses and engineering programme costs”.

Total operating expenses increased by 17 per cent.

The job slowdown goes well beyond Apple.

Amazon.com said on Thursday that it has halted hiring of corporate employees due to an “uncertain” economy.

Lyft, Chime Financial and Stripe are cutting jobs as well, while Twitter is bracing itself for layoffs following billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover. BLOOMBERG

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