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2023 Layoffs in Review

By Chris Talley, and Steven Zhang
Jan 17, 2024
We all know that 2023 was a year of widespread layoffs, but looking at the data reveals a harsh truth: not everyone was impacted equally. Here are the trends that we noticed when reviewing the 2023 layoff data reported by 40 state governments.
As a reminder of where this data comes from: The WARN Act of 1988 requires employers to report layoffs of a certain size to state government officials at least 60 days in advance of the layoff. States then report this data through various means, and we at WARNTracker aggregate this data for most of the states (40 out of 50). In short, WARNTracker’s dataset does not cover ALL US Layoffs but is one of the most representative datasets one can get.
So, what does the data show?

Layoffs picked up notably in 2023, but the 2023 numbers are still dwarfed by the layoff wave of 2020.

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2020 layoffs were still more than 3.5 times the magnitude of 2023 layoffs, and nearly 8x the magnitude of 2021.
This doesn’t even include temporary furloughs. Including furloughs adds an additional 700,000 to the 2020 numbers.
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Public-traded vs privately held companies

Unsurprisingly, 2020 layoffs impacted smaller, private businesses much more than larger, publicly traded companies. We see that in 2020, approximately two thirds of layoffs were from private companies. Contrast that with 2023, when only 47% of layoffs were reported from private companies.
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Removing the 2020 outlier

Given that 2020 was a clear outlier, how does 2023 compare to other (more “normal”) years?
Excluding 2020, we see that 2023 was the highest year for layoffs in the last decade, and 14% higher than the 2nd highest layoff year in the last decade (280,000 in 2019, vs 320,000 in 2023)
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Quarterly view

When we break down layoffs quarterly- we see that there was a steady increase in layoffs  starting in Q1 2022, but things dipped in Q4 of 2023.
 
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Variance per state is very high (total and per capita)

Here, we see a stark contrast. 2.3 out of every thousand Washingtonians, while only 0.1 out of every thousand Oklahomans were laid off, based on 2023 WARN notices.
This aligns with the anecdotal sentiment that tech was hit particularly hard in 2023. Many of the states with the highest rate of layoffs per capita are also the most tech-heavy states.
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Each year, the most populous states (CA, NY, TX) typically dominate layoffs, unsurprisingly.
 
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But if we look closely, we will see some surprising trends. For example, notice how large Rhode Island appears in 2022 relative to other years.
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Caveats

  • Also excluded: Yellow corporation from Colorado which was a 22,000 layoff in one event. That number is incorrect since it was distributed over many states (but the CO government reported it as one event under CO))
  • Some of the states showing the highest layoffs per capita, also have their own “Mini-WARN” acts, which impose stricter requirements on layoff reporting, This may partially account for the large difference.

Contact us

If you’d like to interact with the data, check out our published interactive workbook below  and our granular data tables, charts, and maps on the front page here.
If you’d like to purchase the underlying data from this report, see our various self-serve data products here. If you need more help, email us at [email protected].
Check out our blog with more layoff analysis here: https://www.warntracker.com/blog

Other interesting visualizations of this data

Here are some other interesting visualizations for this data we thought you as the reader might find useful
We used pie charts to divide up the layoffs per state on stylized US Map.
 
Click the tabs above to navigate between each visualization.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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