It would be too easy to say that hiring trends at space-launch companies SpaceX ($PRIVATE:SPACEX) and Blue Origin ($PRIVATE:BLUEORIGIN) go up and down, but that also wouldn't be true. Since at least the last couple years, hiring at the two privately-owned companies — SpaceX of Elon Musk and Blue Origin of Jeff Bezos — has been a nonstop upward trend.

But something is happening at Blue Origin: new job opening listings since the beginning of 2020 have dropped precipitously as hiring for its New Shepard crewed flight team appears to have accelerated.

Just a month ago, Blue Origin listed 790 openings on its careers website. But as of Friday, the number of openings dropped to 645 — an 18.35% drop in less than a month. The apparent hiring cut back comes just as SpaceX announced it would spin out its StarLink satellite broadband operations and as Musk's launch company hits all-time highs in hiring.

The hiring slowdown at Blue Origin is likely temporary, as the rocket company just opened a new 350,000-foot engine factory in Huntsville, Alabama. It will also open a new launch complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, which will be the site of eventual New Glenn launches in 2021.

It's unlikely that the hiring slowdown is linked to reported delays in its crewed flights operation in West Texas. In fact, hiring for that project appears to outstrip that of others, as the categorical breakdown above shows. Hiring for the New Shepard team — the craft destined for crewed flights — has accelerated in the past quarter.

Meanwhile, hiring at SpaceX — at least as measured in job openings — has hit 561 openings, up from 489 in the new year. It's plausible that hiring at SpaceX will soon outpace that of Blue Origin, something it's failed to do at least until this year.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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