Tech Layoffs Predictions 2024: When Will the Job Cuts End?

In 2023, more than 240,000 roles left the tech industry globally, as many tech giants have shaved their workforce throughout the year. As we reach the end of Q1 2024, we can see the tech layoffs trend seems to show no signs of stopping.

When will tech layoffs stop? 207 tech companies have laid off 50,158 jobs in the first quarter of 2024  — so we are not there yet. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We are beginning to see the emergence of new job roles and opportunities waiting on the horizon.

As business leaders debate whether artificial intelligence (AI) is a force for good on the job-seeking front or if it will kill more careers, let’s examine recent tech company layoffs before considering the broader landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • The layoffs at tech companies continue: Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, Apple, Cisco, SAP, and Sony have all made significant cuts.
  • More than 200 tech companies in the tech sector have laid off more than 50,000 in the first quarter of 2024, according to the layoffs tracker.
  • Layoffs reflect a broader trend in the tech job market, where companies increasingly lean on AI and automation for efficiency and innovation, often resulting in a reduced human workforce.
  • Massive tech layoffs spurred ‘Layoff Diaries,’ an emerging trend in which employees film and share their layoff experiences online.

Unfortunately, the tech layoff trend continued to gain momentum in March, with IBM announcing massive job cuts in its marketing and communications division. This follows the tech giant’s announcement last August that it would look to replace 8,000 jobs with AI — with CEO Arvind Krishna hinting that AI and automation could replace up to 30% of back-office roles within five years.

Layoff announcements across the US escalated by 3% in February, making it the highest level in 11 months with a surge to 84,638 job cuts. One of the biggest tech layoffs came from Cisco Systems, which announced a significant workforce reduction of 5%, translating to over 4,000 jobs.

Grammarly reduced its staff by 230 to focus on transitioning towards AI-enabled workplace solutions. The announcements kept coming, with Instacart announcing a layoff of 250 employees, approximately 7% of its workforce, to streamline operations, concentrate on key projects, and make organizational changes.

Advertisements

Apple called time on its autonomous car division, affecting up to 1,400 employees, as it canceled the electric car project and shifted focus to other technological innovations. These moves, totaling 2,320 job losses across four companies, reflect a broader industry trend of adjustments in response to market demands and strategic shifts towards efficiency and innovation.

In February, Electronic Arts (EA) announced a 5% reduction in its workforce, eliminating 670 jobs, and Sony’s PlayStation unit revealed it was also going to lay off 900 employees, accounting for 8% of the division’s workforce. In January, the industry was hit by Twitch‘s decision to lay off 500 employees (35% of its workforce).

In an increasingly digital world, there is a strong argument that every business is now a tech company. Unfortunately, this means that the recent tech layoffs indicate that job losses are spreading far beyond the tech bros of Silicon Valley.

Global Layoffs Trend: Analyzing the Impact of AI Across Sectors

Also in February, Travel giant Expedia revealed it would cut 1,500 roles in its Product & Technology division by 2024, significantly reshaping its operational focus. Elsewhere, Duolingo‘s move to cut 10% of its contractor workforce highlights a growing reliance on AI to perform tasks traditionally handled by humans. This suggests a broader trend of automation and efficiency driving workforce adjustments.

DocuSign also hit the headlines in February when it announced it would be making a significant reduction that would see 6% of its employees depart, with the sales and marketing divisions bearing the brunt of these changes.

The marketing department was also hit hardest at Nike, where the sportswear giant initiated the layoff of approximately 1,600 employees, accounting for 2 percent of its workforce. This strategic reduction notably encompasses senior technology, innovation, and marketing positions.

These decisions reflect a broader trend in which traditional companies, faced with evolving market conditions and the imperative for cost optimization, are reevaluating the role and scale of their tech workforce. Nike’s move, set against a 13 percent year-on-year decrease in share prices and a deceleration in revenue growth, underscores the vulnerability of tech workers in sectors beyond the quintessential tech industry.

Nike’s announcement to curtail $2 billion in expenses over three years further amplifies the urgency of adapting to the shifting economic landscape. These examples also illustrate a broader transition and adaptation narrative as traditional industries grapple with the imperatives of technological integration and workforce evolution.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg arguably lit the spark of job cuts in 2024 after declaring that 2023 was the “year of efficiency,” only to see the stock jump almost 200% alongside 20,000 job cuts.

January 2024 will be remembered as the month when Microsoft Gaming continued the trend by trimming its workforce by approximately 8%. The move impacted around 1,900 positions and came just a few months after its landmark $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Amidst scrutiny from US regulators, Microsoft staunchly refuted allegations that it went back on its word about job cuts.

In a bold pivot towards AI-centric growth, SAP, buoyed by robust earnings, announced a significant restructuring initiative to reshape its workforce dynamics, impacting 8,000 roles through reskilling or departures. This strategic overhaul is intertwined with SAP’s refreshed ambitions for 2025, projecting a substantial non-IFRS operating profit of approximately €10.0 billion and a free cash flow ambition of around €8.0 billion, figures that not only underscore the company’s financial robustness but also anticipate surpassing analyst expectations. But at whose expense?

Google, Amazon, Who’s Next?

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, recently communicated to employees the inevitability of further job cuts. Google layoffs continue in its global sales and advertising teams after job cuts in hardware and engineering departments.

Last year, Google decided to reduce its workforce by approximately 12,000 roles. As for more recent layoffs, Pichai said in his recent internal memo to the company employees:

“We have ambitious goals and will be investing in our big priorities this year. The reality is that to create the capacity for this investment, we have to make tough choices.”

Amazon layoffs also add to the overall tech layoff trend, which has spilled into 2024. The company announced plans to cut several hundred employees at the Prime Video and MGM Studio departments.

Spotify Wrapped Shows the Power of AI — While Cutting 1,500 Job

Many companies are increasingly promoting the idea that the success of AI is not at the expense of jobs.

Spotify’s contrasting actions highlight a complex narrative in the tech industry’s relationship with AI and employment.

Mere days after flaunting its Spotify Wrapped AI feature in December, Spotify announced a significant workforce reduction, cutting 17% of its staff. This decision, affecting around 1,500 employees, was a strategic move to streamline operations and manage financial challenges despite its recent profit.

The juxtaposition of celebrating advanced AI-driven features while simultaneously reducing the human workforce raises critical questions about the impact of AI and automation on jobs.

AI giveth, AI taketh — from an employment angle, it’s a Bittersweet Symphony.

Dataminr Cuts 20% of Staff

Dataminr has made significant workforce reductions, citing advancements in AI and operational changes as key factors. Dataminr, a big data startup valued at $4.1 billion, announced a 20% staff cut in November, amounting to around 150 employees.

This move aligns with the company’s focus on enhancing its AI platform, including integrating predictive and generative AI technologies. The layoffs are part of a strategic shift to strengthen Dataminr’s financial position and extend its cash runway despite its success in leveraging big data for real-time insights into global events.

Klarna: Why Hire Dozens of People When One AI Can Do The Job?

Klarna’s CEO, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, recently revealed a controversial strategic move by instituting a tech hiring freeze because he believes AI can do the jobs instead.

What sets Klarna’s approach apart is its commitment to refraining from layoffs and instead focusing on the potential of AI to handle tasks that once demanded significant human effort.

Siemiatkowski told The Telegraph:

“Things that previously took people a lot of time can be done much faster and much shorter, and we need fewer people to do the same thing. The right thing for us is just to say: ‘Let’s not recruit now, let’s see how this plays out’.”

While this shift towards AI promises undeniable advantages in terms of operational excellence and innovation, it raises pertinent concerns about the impact on employment and regulatory considerations.

Why Are There So Many Tech Layoffs?

Anna Tavis, clinical professor in human capital management at New York University, believes that all industries will continue to “right size” their staffing levels in pursuit of efficiency, cost cutting, and rationalizing their skills portfolio.

“In the aftermath of the recruitment surge post-pandemic, its lingering effects remain evident. Tech firms overspent on growing their staff sizes. Now, they experience a pressing need to recalibrate their ranks and align to the needed levels,” Tavis said to Techopedia.

As we stand on the threshold of a new era in the workforce, driven by rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, the conversation around AI’s impact on labor costs has reached a fever pitch. Business leaders and analysts are examining the balance between automation and human skills. Tavis offers a little food for thought for companies contemplating an AI-powered future.

“There is a heightened anticipation surrounding the potential labor cost efficiencies from adopting AI. While it is believed that AI might replace some jobs or parts of jobs currently performed by human workers, it is important to note that these expectations might be ahead of their time. Nevertheless, given AI advancements, companies are preparing for a major organizational shift.”

In the wake of sweeping layoffs at major corporations like Twitter, the dialogue surrounding corporate restructuring and its implications has gained new urgency. Such high-profile moves don’t merely impact the companies directly involved; they set the tone for industry-wide trends, creating ripple effects that influence organizational behavior across the board.

“At its core, the market continues to reward workforce reductions, no matter how compelling the evidence highlights their damaging effect on companies’ cultures. Industry sectors likely to see layoffs in 2024 include tech and tech-related firms and consulting services.”

Vulnerable Roles in Tech

Nick Gausling, a seasoned business consultant and managing director of Romy Group LLC, sheds light on the intricacies of the tech world under these conditions.

“The tech sector relies heavily on stocks and borrowing. When interest rates rise, borrowing becomes more expensive, and stocks decline. Rates are at their highest level in over two decades and climbing, making more tech layoffs virtually inevitable,” Gausling said to Techopedia.

Gausling’s insights tap into the core challenges facing established tech companies and fledgling startups, illuminating the factors that dictate their survival, scalability, and employee retention strategies in this high-stakes environment.

Many tech startups scramble to get any funding they can, even on unfavorable borrowing terms. Those who succeed might survive the layoffs today but cannot service the debt tomorrow. If your company’s unit economics aren’t already profitable, it’s a precarious situation.

While companies rigorously evaluate roles indispensable to their core operations versus those considered more peripheral, Gausling also emphasizes the heightened vulnerability of specific roles in these uncertain times.

“Staff who directly contribute to building, selling, or servicing the company’s core product are least likely to be laid off in 2024, while those in middle management and support roles are most vulnerable. But in new or experimental divisions outside the company’s bread and butter, even engineers and salespeople need to watch out.”

Tech Layoff Diaries: Employees Turn Job Losses into TikTok Trends

In a digital age where remote work and social media are intertwined with our professional lives, there is an emerging trend where employees are filming and sharing their layoff experiences online. On the positive side, these videos, such as Brittany Pietsch’s viral TikTok post, offer a raw and brutally honest perspective and impact of the cold layoff process.

@brittanypeachhh

When you know youre about to get laid off so you film it 🙂 this was traumatizing honestly lmao #layoffs #tech #techlayoffs #corporate

♬ original sound – Brittany Pietsch

These viral videos serve as educational tools for those new to the workforce, demystifying the experience and fostering a sense of community and solidarity among those who have endured similar situations. It manifests a changing professional landscape where transparency and sharing of personal experiences are more accepted, even in sensitive situations like layoffs.

Although layoffs might sound like a good idea in an operational efficiency meeting many miles away from those impacted, it also highlights a massive disconnect between Big Tech and its employees. Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, said the viral video was “painful to watch” and admitted they should have handled it better.

However, this trend isn’t without its drawbacks. Sharing personal and potentially sensitive work-related events online can have long-term professional repercussions. These videos could be perceived negatively by future employers, who might view publicizing a private corporate matter as a breach of trust or professionalism. This could hinder future job prospects, especially in tight-knit industries where reputations matter significantly.

Additionally, there’s the risk of legal ramifications, particularly if the video content breaches any non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements. This aspect underscores the importance of being aware of and respecting legal boundaries even when navigating the emotional aftermath of a tech layoff.

While these layoff videos offer a glimpse into the often hidden world of corporate layoffs, they also raise important questions about privacy, professionalism, and the long-term impact of sharing such content on one’s career. But as the workplace evolves with technology, so must our understanding of the implications of our online actions.

At a time when organizations are launching marketing campaigns that promote a fake positive image without taking meaningful action, we have seen a rise in backlashes in the form of greenwashing and woke-washing. It’s only a matter of time before we see a new buzzword for the act of a CEO saying, “Our people are important to us,” while simultaneously sending in a proverbial firing squad.

This latest trend underscores a significant shift in employee-employer dynamics where workers fight back the only way they know how. But it also raises a debate about balancing transparency and discretion in corporate America.

Preparing for More Job Cuts in 2024

Randstad RiseSmart’s Global Severance report suggests the global employment landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, with a staggering 96% of organizations already implementing some form of downsizing in the past year, underscoring the widespread impact of economic challenges and shifting business strategies.

Even more telling is the expectation that 92% of these employers are bracing for further headcount reductions in 2024.

Alarmingly, the survey reveals a critical gap in organizational preparedness; most of these companies appear to lack robust strategies or resources to support their employees effectively through these impending job cuts. This situation highlights the need for more comprehensive severance and transition plans and raises questions about the long-term implications for workforce morale and the broader socio-economic fabric.

The good news is while AI is enhancing efficiency in fields like software development and IT operations, it struggles with tasks requiring human intuition and manual dexterity. Interestingly, jobs least likely to be affected by AI are those rooted in human empathy and physical skills, such as healthcare, skilled trades, education, and creative professions.

Understandably, many are beginning to ask which careers are safe and which are at risk. But as AI matures, its role should be seen as more of a collaborator than a replacement. As Businesses increasingly leverage AI to enhance efficiency and human experiences, this technological embrace brings forth the critical challenge of maintaining ethical standards.

So, companies must invest in employee training for AI-related skills, ensuring a workforce that complements AI’s capabilities. This approach safeguards jobs and propels the workforce toward a more advanced, AI-empowered future where technology and human talent synergize for greater innovation and efficiency.

Upskilling into AI May Be One Answer

The global tech sector faces a paradox: a 50% increase in tech layoffs, resulting in over 240,000 job losses worldwide in 2023, coinciding with significant investments in AI. This scenario highlighted a complex interplay between technological advancement and job insecurity, casting a shadow over the future of employment.

Despite these challenges, the US labor market showed resilience and adaptability, with a growing need for workers skilled in generative AI, as indicated by a notable increase in job postings mentioning “GenAI.” This trend suggests a shift towards a more AI-integrated job market, requiring professionals to adapt and acquire new skills to thrive in an evolving employment landscape.

Future-Proofing Your Career

On the flip side, Cliff Jurkiewicz, vice president of global strategy at Phenom, an HR technology company, believes a positive side exists. The good news is there’s a tremendous opportunity for tech jobs in other industries.

“The retail and communications industries are going through massive technology upgrades. AI is driving expansion in tech. Like disruptive technologies before it, AI is creating new roles and new skill requirements for existing roles,” Jurkiewicz told Techopedia.

AI Curators work closely with expansive language data sets to train AI algorithms and ensure that their outputs align with the organization’s goals. AI Ethicists serve as ethical compasses, grappling with questions of fairness and transparency.

“Think of Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park always pushing beyond “can something be done” and asking “but should it be done?”

AI Policy Makers and Legal Advisers scrutinize technical and societal impacts, working in tandem but distinct from AI Ethicists. AI Trainers educate the workforce and the AI itself, acting symbiotic with AI Curators.

AI Auditors are responsible for ensuring the accountability of AI systems, while AI/Tech Interpreters adopt a more strategic lens, translating the overarching impact of AI technologies within an organization.

These roles signal AI’s maturation in the enterprise and underscore the multifaceted responsibilities that come with its adoption.

“Tech professionals have an advantage. Their skill sets are highly marketable to the tremendous opportunities for tech roles in other industries. They also have the background and ability to simplify upskilling for the new AI-based roles. And these new AI roles are just the beginning, with others not far off on the horizon.”

The Six-Fold Rise of Data Jobs in the Tech Industry

Linda Lee, chief people and culture officer of Velocity Global, shared job trend data from the past five years, which shows that data-related jobs have increased six-fold in new employment from 2018 to 2022.

To get more specific about which data roles are leading the charge, almost a quarter of these jobs were data scientists and data engineers in 2022.

Lee believes this will likely continue to be a focus in 2024 as data reigns king in business.

“Because borders no longer restrict one’s options for work, we expect borderless hiring to continue its upward trajectory as companies look to boost revenue streams, broaden talent pools, and retain quality talent,” Lee said to Techopedia.

As the tech industry solidifies its role as a global change agent and growth engine, understanding the job market trends for 2024 is becoming crucial for both seasoned professionals and newcomers eager to make their mark.

“The tech space catalyzes worldwide change, innovation, and growth. The job market has been challenging the past couple of years, but the industry’s potential drives those to stay in the space and new talent to enter. The industry will only grow in 2024, and according to the data, enhancing your data skills and highlighting your managerial experiences will help you break through and move up.”

Curiosity as Currency: Why the New Tech Industry Values an Agile Mindset

Martha Angle, VP of talent management and inclusion at OneStream Software believes that the evolving tech industry demands adaptability and innovation from employers and job seekers.

Traditionally, technical roles often revolved around tightly defined job functions, leading to limited exposure to diverse technologies and projects. This specialization frequently meant not everyone had access to the latest technologies or the opportunity to work on exciting and innovative projects.

As a result, employees could find themselves pigeonholed in their roles, lacking the chance to explore broader horizons within the tech landscape. This limitation not only hindered individual career growth but also constrained organizations from tapping into the full potential of their workforce.

“The current shift toward a more flexible and adaptable approach in the tech industry is breaking down these historical barriers. Employers recognize the value of offering diverse opportunities and encouraging employees to stretch beyond their comfort zones, fostering a more dynamic and innovative work environment.

 

“This transformation benefits job seekers and organizations, allowing for a more agile response to the ever-evolving demands of the tech sector,” Angle told Techopedia.

Conversely, job seekers must exhibit proactive curiosity and a genuine enthusiasm for learning and experimenting with new technologies.

“Relying solely on an MIS degree to demonstrate technical proficiency is no longer sufficient.”

Employers seek evidence of candidates exploring tech stacks beyond Java and Python or taking on independent projects to delve into languages like C-sharp or experiment with generative AI tools. Those who break free from their silos gain a competitive advantage.

The Case for Automated Onboarding and Offboarding

Arthur Lozinski, CEO of Oomnitza, who helps companies automate their technology management processes, shared how he sees companies of all sizes across all sectors and geographies prioritize offboarding process automation to address efficiency, security, and cost considerations. Lozinski said to Techopedia:

“It could indicate they understand the fluidity and unpredictability in today’s business environment and want to be prepared to offboard securely at scale if needed.

 

“Additionally, workforce adjustments are always made for holiday and seasonal work, shifts in demand or business strategy, and to address higher than anticipated voluntary turnover. So, no matter what, high rates of personnel change are the new reality.

 

“What I can say is that since the start of the pandemic, one of our top use cases has been automating the processes that drive employee onboarding, offboarding, moves, and business reorganizations.”

Lozinski also shared research that revealed how inefficient and manual offboarding and onboarding processes can increase the cost and business risk of employee turnover.

We found that a third of enterprises lose more than 10% of their associated technology assets and 42% experience unauthorized access to SaaS applications and cloud resources when offboarding workers.

And 50% lose at least 10% of their annual expenditures on underused, unmanaged, or unaccounted-for SaaS/cloud resources. Those hidden costs add up, effectively acting as a layoff tax. Who knew cost-cutting could be so expensive if not done appropriately?

The Operational Efficiency Era: Big Tech’s New Obsession

In October 2022, a viral video titled “A Day in the Life of a Twitter Employee” showcased an employee’s leisurely day filled with amenities and minimal work. The video sparked a significant discussion about efficiency and work ethic in tech companies. This portrayal of a seemingly entitled tech worker lifestyle amidst luxury and minimal productivity may have catalyzed the tech industry’s intensified focus on efficiency and productivity.

A few months later, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, declared it the “Year of Efficiency,” a strategy that remarkably helped Meta recover from a significant stock decline. This shift wasn’t unique to Meta; it created a ripple effect across the industry, leading to increased tech company layoffs in 2024.

Rather than substituting human roles with AI, the evolving strategy and obsession with operational efficiency could be more about consolidating the workforce, prioritizing a leaner team of professionals who want to work with AI rather than push against it. This shift would represent a deliberate move towards cultivating a more specialized, AI-savvy workforce capable of steering the complex interplay between technology and human ingenuity.

The Bottom Line

As we confront the complexities and contradictions of the tech employment landscape in 2024, the onus is on us — whether as business leaders, job seekers, or industry observers — to adapt, innovate, and ethically navigate this evolving terrain.

While challenges loom large, from unexpected layoffs influenced by economic variables to the relentless drive for efficiency, the industry also holds untapped potential. The future is not just about smarter technology but a more inclusive world for everyone.

As we enter a year of unparalleled technological change, let’s not lose sight of the human element that powers innovation and shapes its impact. Beyond the data and algorithms, our collective choices will define the tech job market and society at large.

FAQs

Is getting laid off the same as getting fired?

Why are tech layoffs happening?

Why are there so many tech layoffs?

Which tech companies are laying off staff?

Will layoffs continue in 2024?

References

Advertisements

Related Reading

Related Terms

Advertisements
Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.