Yet there’s been a proliferation of large-scale layoffs in recent months. Some of the deepest cuts have occurred in the tech and media sectors: Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, HP, and the parent companies of Google and Facebook have all signaled plans to slash several thousand workers. After initially cutting thousands of workers, Amazon and Facebook just a few months later announced plans to lay off thousands more.
Companies in other industries also are cutting back, including Goldman Sachs, Ford, 3M, Hasbro, Boeing, Disney and Tyson.
Though prices have eased, inflation remains high and is an ongoing headache for the Federal Reserve, which has been raising interest rates at the fastest pace in decades to combat it, though recently it has had to confront turmoil in the banking sector that some observers attribute at least partly to the Fed’s actions. Meanwhile, many experts say at least a mild recession is likely.
Technology firms and Wall Street banks, which belong to sectors more sensitive rising borrowing costs, have generated some of the most notable layoff announcements.
Aaron Terrazas, chief economist at the employment website Glassdoor, said three kinds of companies are cutting staff right now: those for whom debt is becoming more expensive amid the Fed’s tightening; those uncertain about the economic outlook; and those using the economic climate as an excuse to cut employees they would have let go anyway.
“The biggest question right now is this reevaluation of risk,” Terrazas said, noting that businesses coming out of the pandemic must contend with geopolitics, employee retention, investment and the supply chain.
“Today’s business leaders have been scarred by this endless parade of risk events over the past couple of years and just desperately want a year when things go according to plan — and so they’re planning conservatively,” he said. “That’s the dynamic that we’re seeing in the economy.”
Here’s a rundown of some of the more significant layoffs:
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is cutting about 12,000 jobs, CEO Sundar Pichai said in January. He said that the job cuts — estimated to be 6 percent of the workforce — will occur across the company and that the decision came after a “rigorous review.” Alphabet nodded to the tremendous growth the company experienced over the past two years, but demand has waned with the return to in-person life and with interest rate increases, which have made borrowing more expensive. Pichai said that the company had hired to meet the prior surge but that the economic reality the company faces now is far different.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant announced in November plans to slash roughly 10,000 corporate jobs — many from its human resources, devices and retail divisions — and raised that total to 18,000 in January. In March, Amazon said it planed to lay off an additional 9,000 workers, citing an “uncertain economy.” The reduction appears to be the largest in a decade of near-constant expansion, with more than 1.5 million employees at the end of September. Amazon, like other tech companies, went on a hiring binge during the pandemic, and analysts say the layoffs mark the end of an era marked by industry bloat. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In November, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram announced plans to cut 11,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workforce, in an effort to rein in expenses and focus on transforming its advertising business. The cuts underscored a tumultuous new period in Silicon Valley, whose tech giants have been long regarded as recession-proof. Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s founder, has said declines in online shopping and advertising competition led to a decline in revenue. His company has also bet big on a push to create a virtual world often called the metaverse. In March, Zuckerberg announced that an additional 10,000 workers would be cut.
Microsoft plans to lay off 10,000 employees, the company said in January as part of a restructuring plan to focus on areas of growth and brace the company for an economic downturn.
The tech giant is the latest corporation to cut workers amid economic uncertainty, coming off the spectacular highs of the early pandemic period, when Wall Street cheered on the staggering gains of internet, software and communications companies.
The layoffs at Microsoft amount to less than 5 percent of its workforce.
The cloud-computing giant — whose products include the popular workplace chat system Slack, as well as tools for sales, marketing and customer service — announced cost-cutting plans that include shedding 10 percent of its workforce. Salesforce has more than 79,000 employees, meaning the layoffs could affect nearly 8,000 people. Co-chief executive Marc Benioff said the company hired too many people when its sales surged during the pandemic. Salesforce’s latest quarterly report showed a slowdown in its revenue growth rate.
Soon after Elon Musk acquired the San Francisco-based social media company in October 2022, he fired much of the company’s top brass and laid off roughly half of its 7,500 workers. Hundreds more workers departed in November after refusing to sign a pledge to work longer hours, The Washington Post reported. It laid off another 200 people on Feb. 25, according to the New York Times.
The Tesla billionaire has been under extreme financial pressure since the deal wrapped up in October; analysts have pegged Twitter’s value near $25 billion, well below the $44 billion footed by Musk and his investors. He is expected to owe $1 billion in annual interest payments alone, after taking out a large loan to help pay for it. The site also has seen a significant drop in ad revenue.
The entertainment behemoth announced in February that it planned to cut around 7,000 jobs in a sweeping effort to save $5.5 billion. The reductions came only months after Bob Iger, who led Disney through its golden age, returned to the company, promising big changes. In announcing the cuts, Iger said Disney is “committed to running our businesses more efficiently, especially in a challenging economic environment.”
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is reducing its workforce by 5 percent, or about 1,250 jobs, Reuters reported in February. The media giant that publishes the Wall Street Journal posted a 10.6 percent decline in advertising revenue, part of an industry-wide slump accompanying higher interest rates. It also incurred $6 million in one-time costs because of a scrapped merger with Fox Corp.
The computer giant said in November that it would trim 4,000 to 6,000 workers by the end of 2025 in an effort to reduce costs. The announcement came after HP reported an 11.2 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenue compared with the same period in 2021; full-year sales dipped 0.8 percent. The staff reductions were included in the company’s “future ready transformation” plan.
The PC maker is shedding about 5 percent of its workforce, or around 6,650 positions. Plunging demand for personal computers has forced the company to enact a broader cost-cutting program that also includes a hiring freeze and a pullback on travel. “What we know is market conditions continue to erode with an uncertain future,” Dell Vice Chairman Jeff Clarke told employees, according to a Feb. 6 SEC filing. “The steps we’ve taken to stay ahead of downturn impacts — which enabled several strong quarters in a row — are no longer enough. We now have to make additional decisions to prepare for the road ahead.”
The technology company plans to cut around 3,900 positions, or about 1.5 percent of its global workforce. IBM said the cuts were related to earlier divestitures of its Kyndryl and Watson Health businesses, although those moves took place long before the job cuts were announced in late January.
The European software giant announced plans to eliminate 2,800 employees, or 2.5 percent of its workforce, citing a “targeted restructuring” and plans to “strengthen its core business and improve overall process efficiency,” according to a January earnings report.
The San Francisco-based communications technology firm announced on Feb. 13 that it would be laying off 17 percent of its workforce. That’s 1,500 jobs based on Twilio’s Sept. 30 head count of roughly 9,000 people, according to an SEC filing. Executives said the cuts were part of a broader restructuring plan designed to shift the company toward greater profitability.
“For the last 15 years, we ran Twilio for growth, building a tremendous customer base, product set, and revenue base. But environments change — and so must we. Now we have to prioritize profit far more than before,” wrote Jeff Lawson, Twilio’s co-founder and chief executive, in a Feb. 13 blog post announcing the layoffs.
The Arlington, Va.-based aerospace giant plans to shed roughly 2,000 non-unionized jobs, primarily in the company’s human resources and finance divisions, a Boeing spokesman confirmed on Feb. 7. The spokesman emphasized that the company plans to hire about 10,000 people throughout 2023, following 15,000 hires the year before.
“We expect lower staffing within some corporate support functions so that we can focus our resources in engineering and manufacturing and directly supporting our products, services and technology development efforts,” the spokesman said.
Redirecting its focus on electric vehicles and their batteries, Ford in August let go about 3,000 white-collar contract employees, according to the Wall Street Journal. It represented a 1 percent reduction in Ford’s 183,000-person workforce and mainly affected workers in the United States, Canada and India, according to the Journal. On Feb. 14, the automaker announced plans to cut 3,800 jobs in Europe, while expanding battery production operations in Michigan as part of a broader transition toward electric vehicles.
The investment bank started shedding as many as 3,200 jobs in early January following a slump in dealmaking in 2022. As with other Wall Street banks, Goldman’s employees expected a drop in annual bonuses, according to the New York Times, and getting no bonus at all can be taken as a sign to leave.
The investment bank’s cuts will go well beyond a ritual year-end culling of underperformers, according to multiple news outlets. Goldman’s head count would still be higher than it was going into the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported, noting it was roughly 49,000 compared with 38,000 in 2019.
3M said it would cut 2,500 manufacturing jobs after the company reported rapid declines in its consumer-facing markets, including slowing demand for disposable respirators and covid-related disruptions in China. The company said the cuts are part of a strategy to address slower than expected growth, as it adjusts its manufacturing output. The layoffs will affect about 3 percent of 3M’s workforce.
“We expect macroeconomic challenges to persist in 2023,” chief executive Mike Roman said.
In December, the investment bank trimmed about 1,600 workers, or 2 percent of its workforce, CNBC reported. The cuts appeared to be part of a tradition among Morgan Stanley and its peers to cut a percentage of low performers at year’s end — a practice that had been suspended during the pandemic. But the following May, the bank started discussions about a new round of layoffs totaling some 3,000 workers, according to multiple news outlets including Bloomberg News.
The bank had seen its head count grow roughly 34 percent since early 2020, partly as a result of two acquisitions. By the end of 2022, inflation had cut into the bank’s dealmaking, according to Reuters, putting pressure on investment banks that earned record profits a year earlier from consulting on mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.
Swollen by pandemic hiring, the food delivery company in November shed 1,250 corporate jobs, about 6 percent of its workforce. Chief executive Tony Xu said in a note to employees that company leaders were “not as rigorous as we should have been in managing our team growth,” as the company’s revenue growth was eclipsed by operating expenses.
The world’s second-largest fashion retailer, based in Sweden, said in November that it would cut 1,500 positions, about 1 percent of its workforce. The move was part of a $177 million effort to cut costs amid surging inflation in Europe tied to the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported. Compounding the retailer’s woes were disappointing third-quarter results as it struggled to keep up with Inditex, the owner of Zara.
The cryptocurrency exchange said in a November blog post that it would slash 30 percent of its payroll, or 1,100 workers, to “adapt to current market conditions.” The industry experienced a dramatic downturn in 2022, erasing billions of dollars of investments.
Kraken said that it had tripled its global workforce in recent years and that the reduction would bring its head count back to 2021 levels. “Unfortunately, negative influences on the financial markets have continued and we have exhausted preferable options for bringing costs in line with demand,” the company wrote.
Online payment company Stripe will cut 14 percent of its workforce. In a memo to staff in November, the company said the 1,100 job cuts will return Stripe’s head count to almost what it was in February 2022.
Shopify announced last summer that 10 percent of its staff would be laid off. The company reported a head count at the end of 2021 of more than 10,000 people, meaning the layoffs are estimated to impact about 1,000 workers.
Video-streaming company Vimeo said in early January that it would lay off about 11 percent of its staff, or about 140 people, “due to the uncertain economic environment.”
In a staff memo on April 20, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the company will lay off 15 percent of the company and begin shuttering BuzzFeed News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning online publication that was started in 2011 as an adjunct to the primary BuzzFeed site, which specializes in listicles about celebrities and popular culture.
Other media companies are also shedding staff amid a softening advertising climate and economic uncertainty. CNN, whose former parent company had merged with Discovery in early 2022, had earlier announced hundreds of job cuts. The country’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett, underwent a round of layoffs that was expected to affect roughly 200 journalists, shortly after it shed about 400 positions in August and froze hiring for hundreds more positions. Paramount Global reportedly laid off several dozen workers, and Disney has implemented a hiring freeze amid plans to restructure.
Vox Media, the company behind New York Magazine, the Verge and Vox, is cutting about 7 percent of its staff, the company said on Jan. 20. Chief executive Jim Bankoff said in a note to staff that cuts will affect multiple teams throughout the company, affecting about 130 people.
The Washington Post laid off 20 of its 2,500 employees in January. The move follows action taken last year to shutter The Post’s Sunday magazine and lay off 11 newsroom employees.
In January, the cryptocurrency exchange announced that it was eliminating 950 jobs in an effort to reduce operating expenses. In a blog post, chief executive Brian Armstrong wrote that the cuts come as the industry “trended downward along with the broader macroeconomy” in 2022.
Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek announced on Jan. 23 that the streaming company would slash 6 percent of its workforce, citing the “need to become more efficient” and over-hiring during the pandemic. “I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today,” Ek wrote in a blog post, which also discussed reorganization plans.
According to its most recent annual filing, Spotify had just over 6,600 employees at the end of 2021.
The toy and entertainment giant announced on Jan. 26 that it would eliminate 15 percent of its global workforce amid broader organizational changes designed to yield $250 million to $300 million in savings by the end of 2025. The layoffs will affect roughly 1,000 jobs and be rolled out over the next several weeks.
Hasbro’s consumer products division “underperformed in the fourth quarter against the backdrop of a challenging holiday consumer environment,” CEO Chris Cocks said in a news release. The company owns a wide array of brands, including Wizards of the Coast, Monopoly and Playskool.
The e-signature company plans to lay off about 10 percent of its workforce as part of a broader restructuring plan. An earlier round of layoffs affected about 9 percent of the company, according to CNBC, which reported on Feb. 16 that the latest cuts will bring DocuSign’s head count to around 700.
The chemical company announced in late January that it planned to reduce its workforce by 2,000, or about 5.5 percent of its workforce, as it seeks to save $1 billion in 2023. The plans also include closing down certain company assets and “aligning spending levels to the macroeconomic environment.”
Jim Fitterling, Dow’s chairman and chief executive, said those actions would allow the company to navigate “macro uncertainties and challenging energy markets, particularly in Europe.”
Online payment company PayPal said it will lay off 2,000 employees, or about 7 percent of its global workforce. In a memo to staff published to the company’s website, chief executive Dan Schulman said PayPal made significant progress in addressing “the challenging macroeconomic environment” but added the company has “more work to do,” as it restructures and focuses on core priorities. The cuts will occur over the next several weeks, Schulman said.
The videoconference company said in February that it would lay off 15 percent of its workforce, or 1,300 workers — and chief executive, Eric Yuan, said he’d take a 98 percent pay cut. Yuan said the company had not assessed whether it was growing sustainably, as its product became ubiquitous during pandemic lockdowns and business skyrocketed. Now that much of the world has returned to in-person life, some consumers have emerged in a state of “Zoom fatigue” — and the company’s shares have plummeted.
The media and technology company said in February it planned to lay off 20 percent of its workforce as it embarks on a restructuring plan that would impact its advertising unit. Chief executive Jim Lanzone told Axios that the cuts were strategic and not financial. In 2021, the private-equity firm Apollo Global Management acquired Yahoo and AOL in a $5 billion deal with Verizon.
Facing a $30 million shortfall, the radio broadcaster announced in February that it planned to lay off about 10 percent of its staff, or roughly 100 people. In a memo to staff, CEO John Lansing said the broadcasting company was experiencing a decline in advertising revenue, especially in podcasting. He also noted the tough environment for the media industry in general.
The telecommunications giant plans to cut a total of 8,500 positions, or 8 percent of its workforce, by the end of 2023, CNN reported on Feb. 24. The company experienced lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as equipment sales slowed in the United States, according to Reuters.
The consulting firm Accenture in late March said it planned to cut 2.5 percent of its workforce, roughly 19,000 jobs, after lowering its annual revenue and profit projections. The company had expected revenue growth of between 8 and 11 percent, but it revised that forecast down to between 8 and 10 percent. The company wrote in a securities filing that it expects more than half of the layoffs to occur among employees in “nonbillable corporate functions.”
The job-searching company announced in March that it would lay off 2,200 people, or 15 percent of its staff. In a March 22 memo to staff, chief executive Chris Hyams cited a decline in U.S. job openings, which he predicted would fall even further in the next few years. “With future job openings at or below pre-pandemic levels, our organization is simply too big for what lies ahead,” added Hyams, who said he’d take a 25 percent cut in base pay.
The streaming media device company said it planned to cut about 6 percent of the company’s workforce, or about 200 employees, according to a government filing on March 29. The layoffs are part of a restructuring plan, the company said, designed to lower Roku’s growth in operating expenses and “prioritize projects that the Company believes will have a higher return on investment.” In addition, Roku said it will exit and sublease or stop using certain office facilities that it does not currently occupy. The layoffs come after the company parted ways with 200 U.S. employees in November, citing the “current economic conditions in our industry.”
Apple plans to lay off a small number employees from its retail teams, which are responsible for the construction and upkeep of the company’s global retail stores, Bloomberg reported in April, citing sources familiar with the plans. At the time, Apple had been the only tech giant to not announce major cuts to its workforce. Still, it is pulling back in some areas, including by trimming contractors such as engineers, recruiters and security guards, according to Bloomberg.
Deloitte plans to cut around 1,200 jobs as part of a broader restructuring, the Financial Times reported on April 21, citing internal employee communications.
The ride-share giant announced April 27 that it would lay off more than a quarter of its workforce, or 1,072 employees, according to a regulatory filing. It will also eliminate 250 vacant positions. The separations will cost Lyft up to $47 million in severance payments, the company said.
The major food producer said on April 26 that it will eliminate roughly 10 percent of its corporate workforce and 15 percent of senior leadership roles. The cuts are likely to amount to hundreds of workers; the company had 6,000 U.S. corporate employees as of Oct. 1, Reuters reported, and 118,000 in other facilities nationwide, including meatpacking plants. Tyson has already shed some corporate jobs. In October, it centralized its corporate workforce at its headquarters in Arkansas, leading some workers to leave the company.
The parent company of Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta announced on April 27 that it is eliminating 1,800 leadership roles in its headquarters and stores as part of a plan for “simplifying and optimizing our operating model.” The move will save the company $300 million dollars annually, interim chief executive Bob Martin said in a statement.
The cloud storage and software firm said April 27 that it would lay off 500 employees, about 16 percent of the company. Chief executive Drew Houston wrote in a staff memo that Dropbox’s growth had slowed as a result of the larger economic downturn even though the company remains profitable. He also wrote that the company will be increasing its investment in artificial intelligence and needs to reorganize its staffing to prioritize those skills.
Unity, which makes a software platform widely used in mobile and virtual reality games, plans to lay off 600 people, according to a May 2 SEC filing. The layoffs cover about 8 percent of the company’s workforce.
The Microsoft-owned networking platform is laying off 716 employees as part of a global reorganization that will phase out the company’s China-based local jobs app, InCareer, according to a public letter from chief executive Ryan Roslansky. “Though InCareer experienced some success in the past year thanks to our strong China-based team, it also encountered fierce competition and a challenging macroeconomic climate,” Roslansky wrote.
The vaccine manufacturer plans to lay off about 25 percent of its global workforce while also consolidating facilities and infrastructure, the company announced as part of its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday. That would translate to a little less than 500 jobs based on the company’s head count on Feb. 21, the most recent figure available in regulatory filings.