The software giant Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it would be firing 10,000 employees. This morning, Alphabet piled on another 12,000. Amazon has already laid off 18,000 workers, and Meta has eliminated another 11,000. Add to that list Salesforce, which at the start of the month eliminated 7,000 positions.
There is one company that stands out from the rest on this dismal list, and that’s Apple.
It’s important to remember that the last time Apple laid off that many people was in 1997, when Steve Jobs took over as CEO and fired 4,100 people. Before Jobs led a massive turnaround that started Apple on a steady march to where it is today, the company was in dire straits.
This chart illustrates one of the main reasons we’ve heard for these layoffs:
|Employee numbers at time of layoffs
|Employee growth 2020-2021
|Employees laid off
During the height of the pandemic, between 2020 and 2022, each of these businesses experienced explosive growth, with the result being a significantly larger number of employees. Large-scale layoffs have occurred as a result of companies deciding to correct their course as the economy slowed throughout 2022.
Apple’s hiring practises have been much more restrained than those of other large tech companies, adding only 17,000 employees between 2020 and 2022. Maybe it hasn’t had to implement widespread layoffs because it hasn’t hired as many people as the competition.
One small round of layoffs has been reported so far, but Apple has been relatively quiet on the subject. Forbes reported in August that the company secretly fired 100 contract tech recruiters. That may not seem like much in a company with over 160,000 workers, but it could have indicated a slowdown in hiring.
That is precisely what happened after the company announced a hiring freeze in November. Apple said it would continue hiring for some positions despite the freeze, but the company joined others in the industry in responding to the economic uncertainty by halting hiring generally.
Changes in the economy and general unpredictability going into the new year have also played a significant role in the reduction of staff, though Apple has so far refrained from laying off employees.
However, on February 1st, when Apple is expected to report earnings, we should have a more complete picture of the company’s financial health. There’s no telling what will happen, but based on the recent trend of layoffs at other companies, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Apple will follow suit. Hopefully, the company’s careful hiring practises will prevent this, though, and the company’s employees will be spared the trauma.