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The jobs market is hot, but layoffs keep coming in a shifting economic environment

DAVID A. LIEB
February 29, 2024

The U.S. economy is humming and there are hundreds of thousands of jobs being added every month. In a stunning burst of hiring to start the year, the nation added 353,000 jobs in January, shrugging off the highest interest rates in two decades that have been put in place by the U.S. Federal Reserve in part to cool off hiring and spending. The unemployment rate is hovering at 3.7%, just above a half-century low. At the same time, layoffs continue to arrive across almost every sector in 2024 as companies adjust to a shifting economy.

Job cuts in tech and retail follow a massive ramp-up in hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic -- when people spent more time and money online. Now, many companies are reducing headcounts to help lower costs.

The high profile job cuts seem to arrive steadily, but the companies that went on major hiring sprees, mostly big tech, are still much bigger than they were a few years ago, before they began bulking up their workforces. On Thursday, Electronic Arts announced nearly 700 job cuts.

Here's where some of the job cuts have taken place in recent months.

Clothing & Fashion Layoffs

Nike

Nike is cutting 2% of its global workforce, or little over 1,600 jobs, as the athletic wear giant aims to trim costs and reinvest its savings into what it sees as big growth areas like sport, health and wellness. Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, employed roughly 84,000 workers as of May 31, 2023 according to its annual report.

Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder is cutting 3% to 5% of its global workforce. The downsizing, which will affect as many as 3,100 workers, will be made by July, Estee Lauder said. The company employed 62,000 workers worldwide, according to its latest regulatory filing.

REI

REI is laying off 357 workers, mostly in the outdoor retailer's headquarters and distribution centers. In a letter to employees, CEO Eric Artz noted that "outdoor specialty retail has experienced four quarters of decline -- and that trend has been worsening." While REI was able to outperform this for much of last year, he said, this trend caught up to the company in the fourth quarter, and difficult conditions are expected in 2024.

Levi's

Levi Strauss & Co. is slashing its global corporate workforce by 10% to 15% in the first half of the year -- as part of a two-year restructuring plan that seeks to cut costs and simplify its operations, the denim giant said. The layoffs on the same day Levi's unveiled a proposed 10-year extension to the naming rights for Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, in a $170 million deal.

Gaming Layoffs

Sony

Sony will cut about 900 jobs in its PlayStation division, or about 8% of its global workforce, citing changes in the industry as a reason for the restructuring. "The industry has changed immensely, and we need to future ready ourselves to set the business up for what lies ahead," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said in a blog post. The job cuts will occur in the Americas, Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region. In London, the PlayStation Studio will completely close.

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts is cutting about 5% of its workforce, or approximately 670 employees. The video game maker said in a regulatory filing that its board approved a restructuring plan that includes the layoffs, as well as closing some offices or facilities. The Redwood City, California, company had 13,400 workers globally as of March, 31, 2023, according to a filing. CEO Andrew Wilson said the layoffs would be largely completed by early next quarter.

Microsoft

Microsoft is laying off some 1,900 employees in its gaming division, according to an internal company memo. The job cuts -- which represent about an 8% reduction of Microsoft's 22,000-person gaming workforce -- arrive just over three months since the tech giant completed its $69 billion purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard.

Riot Games

Video game developer Riot Games, which is behind the popular "League of Legends" multiplayer battle game, is trimming 11% of its staff. The company, which is owned by Chinese technology giant Tencent, said 530 jobs were being eliminated.

Twitch

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, is cutting more than 500 jobs in a bid to save on costs. The video streaming platform's CEO Dan Clancy said in an email to employees that even with cost cuts and growing efficiency, the platform "is still meaningfully larger than it needs to be given the size of our business."

Packaging & Delivery Layoffs

UPS

UPS will cut 12,000 jobs and hinted that its Coyote truck load brokerage business may be put up for sale. The Teamsters in September voted to approve a tentative contract agreement with UPS, including pay raises for full- and part-time union workers and the creation of 7,500 full-time jobs. The job eliminations are anticipated to be among management roles and contractors, the company said.

Media Layoffs

Vice

Vice Media plans to lay off several hundred employees and no longer publish material on its Vice.com website, the company's CEO said in a memo to staff. Vice filed for bankruptcy last year before being sold for $350 million to a consortium led by the Fortress Investment Group. Once a swashbuckling media company geared to a younger audience, New York-based Vice was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017.

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times said it was laying off at least 115 employees -- more than 20% of the newsroom -- one of the largest staff cuts in the newspaper's 143-year history. The announcement came after the LA Times Guild walked off the job to protest the imminent layoffs, the institution's first ever newsroom union work stoppage.

Social Media Layoffs

Snap

The owner of Snapchat is cutting approximately 10% of its worldwide workforce, or about 530 employees, the latest tech company to announce layoffs. Snap Inc. said in a regulatory filing that it currently estimates $55 million to $75 million in charges, mostly for severance and related costs. It expects the majority of the costs to be incurred in the first quarter.

TikTok

TikTok said its shedding dozens of workers in its advertising and sales unit. A spokesperson for the company confirmed that the social media platform is cutting 60 jobs. TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, did not provide a reason for the layoffs.

Retail Layoffs

eBay

Online retailer eBay Inc. will cut about 1,000 jobs, or an estimated 9% of its full-time workforce, saying its number of employees and costs have exceeded how much the business is growing in a slowing economy.

Wayfair

Online furniture seller Wayfair is cutting about 1,650 jobs, or 13% of its global workforce. The restructuring is set to reduce team sizes across the company and reduce seniority in certain roles with the company planning to "rebuild with modified leveling" this year, CEO and co-founder Niraj Shah said.

Macy's

Macy's is laying off about 3.5% of its total headcount, which amounts to roughly 2,350 employees. The iconic department store is also closing five locations in Arlington, Virginia; San Leandro, California; Lihue, Hawaii; Simi Valley, California; and Tallahassee, Florida.

Technology Layoffs

Cisco

Internet networking pioneer Cisco Systems is jettisoning more than 4,000 employees, about 5% of the company's workforce. The purge follows Cisco's late 2022 cutbacks that shed 5,000 workers and ahead of its $28 billion acquisition of Splunk, a deal that management now expects to complete by April 30.

Google

Google said it was laying off hundreds of employees working on its hardware, voice assistance and engineering teams. The cuts follow pledges by executives of Google and its parent company Alphabet to reduce costs. A year ago, Google said it would lay off 12,000 employees or around 6% of its workforce.

Amazon

Amazon-owned online audiobook and podcast service Audible is laying off about 5% of its workforce. In a memo sent to employees, Audible CEO Bob Carrigan said that the company is in good shape, but faces an "increasingly challenging landscape." In addition, Amazon's Prime Video and MGM Studios unit, is trimming hundreds of employees as it cuts back in areas that are not delivering.

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