Jun 22, 2018

Tesla layoffs prompt closure of several solar facilities

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

A residential solar business bought by Tesla a few years back will be "sharply" downsized because of the company's decision to cut 9% of its employees, Reuters reported Thursday.

Why it matters: The downsize raises questions about the company's viability. Tesla is not only closing facilities in several states, but is also ending an integral retail relationship with Home Depot.

The details: The closures will hit offices in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona, Delaware, Texas, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and New York. There were also employees laid off in Nevada and Utah.

What they're saying:

  • The ending of Tesla's relationship with Home Depot "blindsided" employees because the company previously announced that there would be an expansion, Reuters reports.
  • A former employee told Reuters that the Home Depot partnership brings "in all the revenue."

Tesla told Axios in a statement: "Our energy products are critical to our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and we continue to expect that Tesla’s solar and battery business will be the same size as automotive over the long term. One of the main reasons we acquired SolarCity was to use our Tesla stores to sell not only cars, but also Powerwall and Solar. Tesla stores have some of the highest foot traffic of any retail space in the country, so this presents a unique benefit that is demonstrated by the growing number of Tesla vehicle customers who are also purchasing energy products through our stores. The reorganization that we announced last week does not impact this.”

Go deeper

HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.