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Digging Into The Causes And Effects Of The Mass-Layoff Era

17 million Americans lost their jobs last year --- here's what that means. Digging Into The Causes And Effects Of The Mass-Layoff Era Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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There’s something conspicuously different about the labor market these days. Seemingly endless reports have surfaced over the past year — primarily from within the tech industry — about hundreds or thousands of employees being laid off all at once.

Looking at the numbers

Although 2022 represented a particularly alarming point in the ongoing trend, mass layoffs have become increasingly common over the course of the past two or three decades. And before you try to blame it on the pandemic, a survey conducted back in 2019 found that a whopping 40% of respondents said they’d been laid off at least once.

But let’s take a look at some of the announcements that have dominated headlines more recently:

  • Meta laid off 11,000 employees in 2022 and added 10,000 more to the total this month.
  • 18,000 Amazon workers lost their jobs last year with 9,000 additional layoffs to follow.
  • Twitter slashed its workforce by more than half after Elon Musk acquired the company.

Non-tech companies like Walmart and Disney also announced their own plans to cut jobs on a large scale. Last year alone, an eye-popping 17 million Americans were laid off.

Widespread ramifications

Companies see short-term benefits by cutting labor costs, but it can be difficult to replace laid-off workers when it’s time to beef up the workforce again.

But it’s the workers themselves who face the worst consequences. Not only does being laid off negatively impact a person’s finances, but studies show it can increase the risk of a heart attack.

And those left behind have to pick up the slack while often experiencing guilt over the fact that they didn’t lose their job.

Historian Louis Hyman described job security as “sort of a 20th-century invention,” and it might not extend much further into the 21st century.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 22nd, 2023
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