Layoff Shock: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to Cut 530 Jobs Amid Funding Uncertainty

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA is facing the prospect of laying off 530 employees and 40 contractors due to the lack of funding for the 2024 fiscal year, as detailed in an internal memo. The looming layoff, which would affect 8% of JPL’s workforce, comes as the federally funded research and development center grapples with the uncertainty of its budget allocation.

In a letter to employees, Dr. Laurie Leshin expressed the urgent need to take significant measures to curb spending, citing the absence of an FY24 appropriation and final confirmation on the Mars Sample Return (MSR) budget allocation. Most employees were instructed to work remotely for a day, during which access to the JPL Lab would be restricted.

Following a virtual workforce update meeting, affected employees would be individually notified via email, with their access to JPL systems set to be terminated shortly afterwards. The director of JPL described the impending layoff as the most difficult action she has had to take in her role, underscoring the unfortunate necessity of the decision.

Despite the layoffs, impacted employees can expect to continue receiving their base pay and benefits during their 60-day notice period. The situation at JPL reflects the broader challenges faced by federally funded institutions in navigating financial uncertainties amidst shifting budgetary priorities. The potential impact on ongoing projects and research endeavors underscores the trickle-down effects of budgetary constraints.