Disney begins largest wave of layoffs, cutting thousands of jobs

Disney is laying off several thousand workers across the company this week in the second and largest wave of cuts as part of the media giant's previously announced plan to slash its workforce by 7,000 employees.

The latest round of job cuts will impact ESPN, Disney's entertainment division, Disney Parks, and its Experiences and Product division as part of a larger workforce reduction plan announced in February by chief executive Bob Iger in an aim to save $5.5 billion in costs, the company said. The company had suspended its dividend payments during the pandemic, but Iger announced in February that he expects them to return.

The cuts this week are expected to take place Monday through Thursday, affecting employees from coast to coast, Disney said. The latest round of layoffs comes after an initial wave last month, and will bring the total number of jobs lost across the company to 4,000, it said. The layoffs, however, are not expected to affect hourly frontline employees at Disney's theme parks and resorts.

A third and final wave of layoffs to reach the 7,000 total is expected before the beginning of summer, the company said. Disney had about 220,000 workers as of October 1, of which approximately 166,000 were employed in the United States. A cut of 7,000 jobs represents about 3% of its global workforce.

"The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly," Iger said in a memo to staff last month. "In tough moments, we must always do what is required to ensure Disney can continue delivering exceptional entertainment to audiences and guests around the world -- now, and long into the future."

The layoffs follow Iger's return to Disney in November after the company's board fired Bob Chapek as its leader.