As layoffs keep coming, Apple has steered clear so far

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Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it will lay off 10,000 people. Alphabet added another 12,000 to the misery this morning. We’ve previously seen 18,000 jobs cut at Amazon and another 11,000 at Meta. You could also use Salesforce, which cut 7,000 jobs at the beginning of the month.

You’ll notice one company conspicuously missing from this miserable list, and that’s Apple, which has, at least so far, stayed on the sidelines when it comes to layoffs.

It’s worth noting that the company has had no history of major layoffs, the last major being in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to run the business and laid off 4,100 employees. That was a time when Apple was in deep trouble, before Jobs led a massive turnaround that began a steady march toward the company we see today.

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One of the biggest reasons we’ve heard for these layoffs is hiring, as the chart below illustrates:

Company

Personnel numbers at the time of redundancies

Employee growth 2020-2021 Employees fired
Amazon 1.5 million 800,000 18,000
Alphabet 187,000 52,000 12,000
meta 87,000 27,000 11,000
Microsoft 221,000 58,000 10,000
Apple 164,000 17,000

Source: Macro trends. Click on employee growth rates to access source data.

These companies grew like gangbusters during the height of the pandemic for various reasons, depending on the company, but they each expanded their workforce significantly in the period between 2020 and 2022. As the economy slowed in 2022, these companies decided it was time for a correction, and we’ve seen these mass layoffs as a result.

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While the other organizations added masses of employees, Apple has been hiring at a much more modest rate than its big tech counterparts, adding just 17,000 employees over the 2020-2022 period. Perhaps because it didn’t bring in as many employees as the others, that could explain why there aren’t any major layoffs yet.

Apple’s only layoff news so far has been fairly modest. In August, TBEN reported that the company quietly laid off 100 contract techs. In a company with more than 160,000 employees, that feels insignificant, but it could have been a sign that the company was at least slowing down hiring.

And that’s exactly what happened when the company announced a hiring freeze in November. While Apple indicated its intention to continue taking on certain features, it was a general freeze in response to the general economic uncertainty that all of these companies are responding to.

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The changing economic climate and general uncertainty heading into the new year have also been a big driver of job losses, but Apple has so far avoided using layoffs as a tool.

That said, with Apple’s earnings report scheduled for February 1, we’re likely to get a clearer picture of the company’s overall financial performance. No one can predict what will happen here and certainly given the general pattern of layoffs we’ve seen lately at the other companies it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect something similar but perhaps their caution in hiring will have a help avoid a similar fate and Apple will spare its employees this trauma.

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