Uber axes 3,700 jobs as pandemic hits ride-hailing numbers

Uber has announced it is to cut 3,700 jobs as the coronavirus takes its toll on the number of trips taken using the ride-hailing business.

The company also said in a stock market filing that chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi will waive his base salary for the remainder of the year.

It is the latest big US business to announce sweeping job cuts blamed on the pandemic, with Airbnb revealing that it was to lay off 1,900 workers and General Electric saying as many as 13,000 could go at its aviation unit.

Meanwhile, a closely-watched report from payroll company ADP on Wednesday said US businesses cut an unprecedented 20.2 million jobs in April.

Uber said in a stock market filing that it planned “to reduce its operating expenses in response to the economic challenges and uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the company’s business”.

“Due to lower trip volumes in its rides segment and the company’s current hiring freeze, the company is reducing its customer support and recruiting teams by approximately 3,700 full-time employee roles,” the firm said.

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Uber said the measures would cost it $20m in “severance and other termination benefits” paid out to those who lose their jobs.

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A company spokesperson said: “With people taking fewer trips, the unfortunate reality is that there isn’t enough work for many of our front-line customer support employees.

“Since we don’t know how long a recovery will take, we are taking steps to bring our costs in line with the size of our business today.

“This was a tough decision, but it is the right one to help protect the company’s long-term health and ensure we come out of this crisis stronger.”

The company, as well as rival Lyft, have already withdrawn financial guidance for 2020 as demand for their services drops sharply around the world thanks to lockdowns imposed to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19: New York hit by unemployment

However, Uber could recover some lost revenues through its Uber Eats food delivery business.

The company is due to report first quarter financial results on Thursday.

Uber has 27,000 employees around the world, including 200 in the UK – not including the thousands who work for it as drivers.

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It did not disclose how many in the UK would be affected by the announcement.

Weekly unemployment claims data shows the US is going through its worst jobs crisis on record, with one in six of the workforce registering as jobless in a six-week period.

Official figures on the employment situation due this Friday are likely to further underline the stark economic reality facing the world’s biggest economy as it slides into what is generally accepted will be a severe recession.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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