The Numbers Don’t Lie: Which Country and Industry Are Seeing the Most Layoffs Since COVID-19?

AceYourGrace
6 min readMay 7, 2023

Layoffs have become an increasingly common occurrence in today’s workforce, with many individuals and businesses being affected. With so much information and data available, it can be overwhelming to understand the big picture of layoffs and their impact. That’s why I’ve conducted an in-depth analysis using SAS programming and Tableau, to break down the trends and patterns behind layoffs across countries and industries. This analysis provides key insights into which countries and industries have been hit the hardest by layoffs and the relationship between economic stages and layoffs. To make this analysis accessible and interactive for everyone, I’ve also shared all of my code on GitHub and created an interactive dashboard using Tableau. So, grab a cup of coffee and join me on this data-driven journey to uncover the impact of layoffs across the globe!

The trend of layoffs from March 2020 to April 2023 can be seen as a roller coaster ride, with ups and downs over time.

Looking at the layoff count trend from March 2020 to April 2023, we see a few interesting patterns emerge. The initial months of the pandemic, from March to June 2020, saw a significant spike in layoffs, with April 2020 being the month with the highest number of layoffs at 26,710. This could be attributed to the sudden economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

However, as the months progressed, we see a decrease in the number of layoffs, with the lowest point being in August 2020. This could be attributed to the government intervention and support programs that were put in place to help businesses stay afloat.

From January 2021 onwards, we see a gradual increase in the layoff count, with some fluctuations from month to month. And moving into 2022, the number of layoffs was still high, but not as severe as the previous year. However, this changed in November 2022, when there was a sudden surge of 53451 layoffs, which is the highest count observed in the entire period of March 2020 to April 2023. The trend continued in January 2023, with a count of 89514, indicating a serious impact on the job market.

This could be attributed to various factors such as the end of government support programs, economic uncertainty, the rise of AI, company reorganization, and other industry-specific reasons.

Layoff Count Analysis

  1. US and India Hit Hardest, While Luxembourg Spared

It’s not easy to know for sure why some countries have more layoffs than others, but there are likely many reasons. One possible explanation for high layoff counts in the US and India is their large, complex economies and how the pandemic has affected various industries there. Smaller countries like Luxembourg may have been less affected because of their size and more focused economies, and possibly because their governments took steps to reduce the pandemic’s impact.

2. Consumer and Retail Industries take the biggest blow

Looking at the number of layoffs in different industries from March 2020 to April 2023 I found that consumer and retail industries had the highest number of layoffs, with over 100,000 people losing their jobs. Transportation and food industries followed closely behind, with a total of 71,746 layoffs.

Possible reasons for the high number of layoffs in these industries include the pandemic and the increasing use of AI technology. The pandemic caused businesses to operate with reduced capacity or shut down, which led to a decrease in demand for certain goods, resulting in job losses. The rise of AI technology also had an impact on industries such as transportation and logistics because, in these industries, the implementation of autonomous vehicles and drones can reduce the need for human drivers and delivery personnel, resulting in layoffs.

Industries like healthcare, education, and finance appeared to have fewer layoffs, likely because their services were deemed essential, and their demand grew during the pandemic.

3. Post-IPO Companies have the Highest Layoff Count, while Seed Stage has the Lowest

After analyzing the relationship between layoff counts and the stage of the company, we found that Post-IPO companies were hit the hardest, with a total of 244,796 layoffs. This is followed by Acquired and Series B companies, with 35,605 and 24,568 layoffs respectively.

Possible explanations for this trend could be that Post-IPO companies may have experienced rapid growth, leading to overhiring and a subsequent need to downsize. Acquired companies may have faced redundancies due to overlaps in staffing with the acquiring company. Series B companies may have struggled to secure further funding, resulting in cutbacks.

On the other hand, Seed and Subsidiary companies were the least affected, with only 1,801 and 1,094 layoffs respectively. This could be due to their smaller size and lower levels of investment, resulting in fewer staff and lower risk of layoffs.

4. No relation between layoffs and funds raised

After analyzing the data on funds raised and layoff counts, it was found that there is little to no correlation between the two factors. Despite what some may assume, a company’s ability to raise funds does not necessarily protect it from layoffs. While having ample funds can certainly help a company weather tough times, other factors such as market demand, competition, and financial mismanagement can still lead to layoffs even if a company has raised a significant amount of funds.

So, while it may be tempting to believe that there is a direct relationship between funds raised and layoff count, my analysis showed otherwise.

5. Some companies excel not only in their industry but also in their layoff counts

Amazon and Meta may be some people’s dream companies, but the reality is that layoffs are common across all industries. In fact, according to our analysis of layoff counts by company, Amazon had the highest number of layoffs with 27,150, followed by Meta with 21,000 and Google with 12,000.

Navigating Career Choices in an Ever-Changing Job Market

In conclusion, the job market is constantly evolving and the possible reasons could be attributed to several factors, including changes in business strategies, reorganizations, and shifts in consumer demand due to the pandemic. As an international student here in Canada, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find a job in today’s job market. That’s why it’s crucial to remain adaptable and continuously upskill to stay ahead of the curve. While the layoff counts in some industries and countries may seem daunting, it’s important to also consider trends and potential for growth when choosing a career path. And let’s not forget to follow our passions and interests! After all, a fulfilling career is not just about job security, but also personal fulfillment. And as we navigate through these uncertain times, let’s remember to support those who are affected by layoffs and other economic challenges. After all, a little empathy and kindness can go a long way in making tough times a little bit easier to bear.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read through my article. This is the dataset that I have used. You can find all the SAS codes used in this analysis on my Github repository, and the Tableau dashboard can be accessed through this link. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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AceYourGrace

Writer || Computer Engineer || Data Science Enthusiast