Nearly 60,000 Tech Layoffs This Year After Cuts Reached New Heights In 2023

The past year presented a tumultuous journey for the workforce within the tech sector. For the industry, 2023 was defined by a significant increase in layoffs.

According to insights from People Matters, the tech industry witnessed a notable 15% increase in job terminations compared to the preceding year, with a staggering 261,847 individuals finding themselves affected by these layoffs, around 70%, of which transpired in the United States.

Alas, recent reports from City A.M. reveal that this trend of layoffs has persisted. From startups to renowned corporations, nearly 60,000 tech professionals have already been displaced in 2024, with expectations of further layoffs looming on the horizon.

So, it appears 2024 is poised to shape up much like the previous year for those working within the tech sector. Let’s delve deeper into the underlying reasons driving these significant shifts within the industry.

A Look Back At The Layoffs

The City A.M. report provides a comprehensive overview of the magnitude of layoffs witnessed thus far in 2024. Highlighting key figures, the report reveals that Microsoft cut 1,900 positions this past January, followed by eBay’s cutting of 1,000 roles. Subsequently, both Amazon and Snapchat saw large cuts the following month. More recently, Dell Technologies announced the departure of approximately five per cent of its total workforce.

While these figures alone are significant, they become even more noteworthy when considered against the backdrop of the tech sector’s turbulent journey in the preceding year.

As outlined by TechRound, 2023 bore witness to many substantial tech layoffs. To give just a few examples, January saw Microsoft lay off 10,000 workers, equating to nearly five per cent of its workforce, and Google (Alphabet) cut 12,000 jobs globally, approximately six per cent of its global workforce. February saw PayPal reducing its workforce by 2,000 employees, Zoom letting go of 15% of its staff, and Twitter quietly trimming its workforce by 10%.

The year continued to see Meta initiative further rounds of layoffs, LinkedIn experiencing reductions, Alphabet announcing additional staff cuts, Nokia slashing up to 14,000 jobs, and Amazon and Spotify also implementing layoffs.

Given this recurrent pattern, the question arises: what is driving these widespread layoffs?

Understanding the Surge in Industry Layoffs

Much like various other industries, the tech sector initially faced layoffs amid the pandemic, after which it’s likely that many companies entered a phase of restructuring, leading to decisions to trim their workforce.

This strategic move could signify a post-pandemic market correction, coupled with factors such as economic downturns, shifting market demands, heightened competition, reduced consumer spending, and an amplified reliance on transformative technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI).

Indeed, City A.M. cites Media analyst at PP Foresight, Paolo Pescatore, who anticipates that layoffs will primarily persist throughout 2024 as a result of AI: “The technology is transformative and it can help improve their own margins. Therefore, we can expect to see further job cuts over the next year and beyond,” he explained.

Is It All Doom And Gloom?

Amidst the wave of layoffs, it might seem tempting to paint the tech sector as steadily shrinking, signalling tough times ahead for its workforce. But this would be an oversimplification of the matter.

The tech industry is inherently adaptable, and while the ongoing streamlining may cause unease, it may actually reflect the sector’s ability to adjust and evolve in response to shifting circumstances. This restructuring could signify the sector’s capacity to streamline operations for optimal efficiency. Moreover, it demonstrates a strategic restructuring to make way for emerging technologies such as AI and cloud computing, as well as to align with the post-pandemic market and address any overstaffing issues.

In essence, these layoffs might signify that the tech industry is simply gearing up for its new phase of growth, characterised by innovative technologies and novel challenges. Looking towards the future, therefore, should not necessarily be a drab business. Instead, it can be looked upon as an opportunity for growth and change within the sector as both companies and employees within the tech sector will learn to stay flexible, upskill, and adapt to their ever-changing industry landscape.