What Amazon, Meta and Twitter Layoffs Mean for the Economy

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The tech world is downsizing in a big way, with major players like Amazon, Meta and Twitter either announcing or planning tens of thousands of layoffs amid a slowdown in sales and traffic.

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Amazon is expected to lay off about 10,000 workers in corporate and technology jobs, NPR reported on Nov. 14. That news came after Facebook parent Meta laid off 11,000 workers and Twitter laid off about 3,700 following Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media company.

Other tech firms either planning or announcing job cuts include Stripe, Salesforce, Microsoft, Zillow, Snap and Robinhood.

The fact that so many high-profile tech names are reducing their workforces has led to speculation over what it might mean for the economy at large. As Fortune reported earlier in November, the job cuts come after a decade of robust growth and lavish spending in the tech industry. But with signs of a global recession on the horizon, major tech layoffs could be a bellwether of the broader economy.

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“Oftentimes the tech industry is the leading indicator of what’s going to happen next,” John Anderson, a managing director of executive search firm Allegis Partners, told Time. “With the macroeconomic trends right now, we could definitely see some spillover into other industries.”

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Not everyone is sounding the alarm just yet, however. Although companies like Amazon and Facebook enjoy wide brand recognition, they still operate in an industry that makes up only a small portion of overall jobs, The Week noted. The recent layoffs could be a reflection of nothing more than declining demand in a tech industry that was bound to fall back following such a long boom.

“The once-in-a-lifetime conditions that fostered their growth have now kind of evaporated,” Julia Pollack, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told The Week. “I think the fallout for the rest of the economy will be pretty limited.”

One thing to keep in mind is that the U.S. job market remains historically strong. Payrolls rose by 261,000 jobs in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, though unemployment rose slightly to 3.7%. Even with the recent round of tech layoffs, there are still plenty of companies hiring in a labor market that remains very tight.

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Bledi Taska, chief economist at labor market consulting and research firm Lightcast, told CNBC that while the tech layoffs are “unfortunate,” the U.S. labor market “is significantly larger and has been overall healthy.”

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About 159 million people are currently employed in the United States, CNBC reported. Over the past month, there were only 1.3 million layoffs — less than 1% of the total.

Meanwhile, some sectors of the economy are still in hiring mode. These include the Professional and Business Sector, where layoffs actually declined in September. Layoffs at startups have also fallen in recent months.

“Overall, this means that while it is important to follow some of the high-profile tech layoffs, they are not indicative of the overall trends in the labor market, or even in the tech sector,” Taska said.  

And as The Week noted, some of the tech industry’s wounds are self-inflicted. Examples include Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, both of which have suffered a drop in profits due to the steep rise of TikTok.

Explore: 9 Warning Signs That Company Layoffs May Be On the Way
Learn: How To Prepare for a Layoff During a Recession

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As for Twitter: Many of its problems can be traced to Musk, whose unpredictable behavior since taking over the platform caused many advertisers to bail out.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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