No layoffs at Apple so far — the perks of not overhiring during the pandemic

Apple’s hiring over the past few years has followed the same general trend since 2016.
20 January 2023

No layoffs at Apple so far — the perks of not over hiring during the pandemic (Photo by Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Amid all the news on layoffs by large technology firms of late, Apple Inc, has remained silent. The firm, one of the most valuable in the world, has dodged layoffs to date, even at times when no tech giants are safe from the ongoing period of slow growth. What Apple doing instead is not hiring for the most part of this year, a move that experts believe is the lesser of two evils.

For context, November 2022 was a particularly brutal month for Silicon Valley employees, with Bloomberg reporting that the sector was on track to reach early pandemic levels of layoffs just over one week into the month. Overall, the total number of tech job cuts in the final quarter of 2022 alone ended up being 74,930—14,789 more than 2020’s second-quarter peak.

Although the number of layoffs in Big Tech eased in December, 2023 already has the second-largest total number of job cuts in a single month since January 2022, with layoffs in January having reached 37,549—and the month isn’t even over yet. In fact, three of the biggest rounds of tech layoffs since the onset of Covid-19 took place this January.

Amid all the tech sector layoffs, Apple has been a major exception for an obvious reason: it did not appreciably increase its rate of hiring over the last two years. 

Except Apple, why are there massive layoffs within the tech sector lately?

In 2020, the Covid lockdowns around the world supercharged business for many tech companies. Because sales and profit continued to rise in 2021, tech companies continued their hiring spree. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a sustainable move, given the current economic condition. Growth is slowing, and companies are now having to readjust.

This month alone, a few big tech companies have made significant reductions in the size of their workforce. On January 4, Amazon announced it would lay off 18,000 workers, or 5% of its corporate staff. It is the largest round of layoffs announced since the pandemic started for the e-commerce giant, and it was 8,000 higher than initially expected when the company confirmed back in November that it would be implementing job cuts.

On the same day Amazon announced, Salesforce also said it plans to cut 8,000 jobs, or 10% of its staff, in addition to reducing its office space. Following that, on January 18, Microsoft announced it would be cutting 10,000 jobs, or approximately 5% of its workforce. Following Meta’s 11,000 cut back in November, Microsoft’s is considered the third-largest round of layoffs since the onset of the pandemic. 

The software giant also made multiple job cuts last year, laying off less than 1% of its staff on July 12 and ending another 1,000 jobs on October 17.

Apple still fighting the tech layoffs trend

Apple grew at a much slower rate during the pandemic, so layoffs are not expected to be on the cards. In fact, Apple’s hiring over the past few years has followed the same general trend since 2016, data shows. As of September 2022, Apple had 164,000 employees, which includes both corporate employees as well as retail staff for its stores. But that was only a rise of 6.5% from the same period in 2021, amounting to real growth of just 10,000 employees. 

Apple also hired judiciously in 2020, adding less than 7,000 employees in the year before September 2021, according to CNBC. Understandably then, up to this point, the iPhone maker has not joined its peers in announcing job cuts. In fact, Insider recently reported that Apple has embarked on a hiring freeze that could last until September 2023 – the end of the company’s fiscal year.