Twitter, Stripe, Coinbase, Salesforce, Zendesk, Tesla, Meta, and others have announced significant layoffs in recent months, even though unemployment rates are among the lowest in 50 years.
Facebook parent company Meta announced last week it would cut 13% of its staff or 11,000 workers, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he overestimated how long the pandemic’s e-commerce boom would last.
Early last week, reports indicated Amazon expected to cut 10,000 employees -- a small fraction of its 1.5 million workers -- would include tech as well as corporate staffers, according the The New York Times. The layoffs, which would be the largest in the company's history, are expected to continue into next year.
On Thursday, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a note to employees that the company hasn't "concluded yet exactly how many other roles will be impacted (we know that there will be reductions in our Stores and PXT organizations), but each leader will communicate to their respective teams when we have the details nailed down.”
And, of course, there's Twitter, where new CEO Elon Musk announced the company would slash almost half its 7,500 employees. (Third-party contractors responsible for monitoring Twitter comments for misinformation and hate also reported being laid off.)
The list of companies trimming jobs this year includes online payments giant Stripe, which this month laid off roughly 14% of its staff, or about 1,100 employees; Microsoft, which said in October it had let go of less than 1% of employees, or fewer than 1,000 people, according to an Axios report; Shopify, which announced in July it laid off 1,000 workers, about 10% of its global workforce; Coinbase, which in June cut 18% of its full-time jobs, a reduction of around 1,100 people; and Tesla, another Musk-run company, which also announced cuts in June of about 10% of salaried workers.
Janulaitis cited four major issues that can lead to layoffs:
“This drove them to cut staff and eliminate projects,” he said. “The large tech companies have processes that are geared to growth of market share and revenue targets.... When they start to look at productivity and profitability, the only short-term solution is to cut cost and staff size.”
Seth Robinson, vice president for industry research at CompTIA, a nonprofit IT trade association, agreed, saying, "layoffs that have taken place in the tech sector are largely a function of strategic correction.
"Many businesses accelerated growth during the pandemic and made strategic bets on future direction," he said. "While some of those bets have paid off, others have not — especially as the general economy reacts to high inflation and changes in consumer behavior. The layoffs, which are not only limited to technology professionals, are a result of redefining strategies based on current conditions."
Currently, most organizations appear to be trying to balance recession fears with a growing digital skills crisis, the Great Resignation, and near-record unemployment rates of around 3.5% in the US. (Tech worker unemployment rates are even lower: around 2.2%. In fact, CompTIA's monthly Tech Jobs Report has shown 23 straight months of job growth, with job postings remaining strong.)
“It's a good bet that tech companies that haven't yet laid off employees are carefully considering whether or not to do so," said J.P. Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research. "It wouldn't be surprising to see more layoffs in the next few months, particularly among firms whose fiscal year ends on Dec. 31. They want to set up finances for success in 2023."
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