Another red flag for Tesla: job openings have plummeted

Tough day.
Tough day.
Image: Reuters/Joe Skipper
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Tesla is cutting 9% of its workforce as it races toward profitability, chief executive Elon Musk said Tuesday (June 12).

That belt-tightening appears to go beyond existing positions. Over the last month, job openings at the electric carmaker plummeted by 38%, according to data compiled by financial analysis firm Thinknum and shared with Quartz. Openings on Tesla’s public jobs website peaked at 3,214 on May 10 but have since fallen to 1,985. The company removed 64 listings from June 10 to June 11 alone.

While it’s possible that Tesla removed some of those positions because they were filled, Thinknum publisher Joshua Fruhlinger said it was unlikely the company had hired more than 1,200 people in a matter of weeks, and ahead of cuts to its workforce.

Musk said in an email to staff that the layoffs would not affect Model 3 production targets, which Tesla has repeatedly missed. But the reduction in job openings has also hit the Fremont, California, factory where the company is producing the Model 3. As of June 11, there were 311 openings for Tesla in Fremont, down 44% from a high of 563 on May 10. In April, Musk said Tesla’s Model 3 production had suffered from “excessive automation,” calling it “a mistake.”

Tesla said a significant number of employees in Fremont do work unrelated to Model 3 production.

“To be clear, Tesla will still continue to hire outstanding talent in critical roles as we move forward and there is still a significant need for additional production personnel,” Musk wrote to staff on Tuesday, in his layoff memo. Based on Tesla’s job openings, the bar for “significant need” appears much higher now than just a month ago.

This story was updated to include additional information from Tesla.