January proved to be a brutal month for technology company layoffs. A new website, Layoffs.fyi, that’s tracking job cuts in the sector, says more than 80,000 jobs were slashed in that month alone.
Economic pressures are being felt across the tech industry, and are being felt locally. Within the last few weeks, the City of Kirkland and the Lee Johnson family of car dealerships said that Google will not be buying the land at the corner of Northeast 85th Street and 120th Avenue in Kirkland, abandoning a planned development for a potential Google campus there.
Whether it’s economic pressure, layoffs, or simply cost-cutting, the tech industry is reassessing how fast it grows.
Roger Lee is the man behind Layoffs.fyi. The site is getting more attention and traffic in 2023 and may be perceived as a new source of information on the subject. But Lee says when he launched the site in 2020 to track layoffs back then, just as the pandemic hit, he didn’t realize job cuts now would be worse than when COVID-19 shutdowns happened.
The site listed nearly 160,000 employees that fell victim to layoffs in 2022. That sounds bad enough until you see that in January of 2023, more than 80,000 tech workers were cut from the employment rolls at tech companies in just a single month.
Lee’s site also tracks cities where layoffs are happening and Seattle pops up quite often. He estimates that 70% of all layoffs worldwide are happening in the United States.
“Over the past couple of years, tech companies have gone on a hiring spree fueled by low interest rates and booming demand for their products,” said Lee.
He emphasized that things have changed drastically for tech firms.
“Now, we’re at a different environment where interest rates are rising, people are returning to pre-pandemic norms and these same tech companies are having to resort to layoffs to undo a lot of the over-hiring,” said Lee.
Lee said that the site was originally something he just worked on, but it is now being filled with information by people who use it, essentially crowdsourcing stats on job losses.
Tech companies are pulling back on staffing and Seattle and the Puget Sound region are no exception. The region may show up on the layoffs site some more before layoffs and contraction in the industry ease up.
As for the Google campus that was supposed to come to Kirkland, the city says the car dealerships will remain on the site for the time being.
In a news release, the City of Kirkland said as the Sound Transit Northeast 85th Street/Interstate 405 Bus Rapid Transit Station moves to completion, the Lee Johnson family is confident that similar opportunities for redevelopment at the site of the dealerships will emerge as the economy stabilizes.
The City of Kirkland said it will continue to partner with Lee Johnson on future projects that leverage the investment by Sound Transit to help the city’s plan to redevelop around the new transportation hub, adding that a thriving walkable district with jobs, affordable housing, environmentally sustainable buildings, parks, and a commercial corridor was the goal.