Layoffs are getting loud, and workers are stressing out.
Roughly 1 in 3 U.S. workers, 31%, say they're concerned their company is planning budget cuts or layoffs, according to a recent LinkedIn Workforce Confidence survey, which includes data from 21,000-plus professionals from September to December.
Job-seeker and worker confidence has been on the decline for months, even though the job market is technically very good, economists say, with millions more openings than there are workers to fill them and a historically low layoff rate. But compared to the meteoric rise of worker leverage during the Great Resignation, workers could be seeing a little bit of turbulence, mostly in tech and finance, as an early sign that big trouble is ahead.
But not everyone is feeling that anxiety equally.
Workers who are least stressed about getting laid off, and actually pretty confident in their current job security, include those in:
- Legal: 22% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Administrative: 23% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Military and protective services: 25% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Community and social services: 25% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Accounting: 26% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
Lawyers, paralegals and others in the law field work in a "counter-cyclical industry," writes George Anders, LinkedIn's senior editor at large: Rising foreclosure rates, bankruptcy filings, corporate restructurings and layoff-related lawsuits lead to booming business in the legal field.
Essentially, when times are hard, lawyers get work. And because legal experts have a very specific skillset, employers are likely to hold onto their talent longer.
Other lines of work, like business admin, policing, social work and accounting, are also necessary to keep daily life running. Professionals here may see their jobs as somewhat recession-proof. Anders notes that these workers can be considered society's problem solvers: "Think of them as a recession's essential workers."
Meanwhile, fields where workers are most concerned about their job stability include:
- Product management: 46% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Quality assurance: 40% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Marketing: 39% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Finance: 37% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
- Information technology: 37% are concerned about budget cuts and/or layoffs
A lot of recent tech layoffs making headlines are due to over-hiring to build new products and services to meet exploding demand during the pandemic. Then, as people got vaccinated and figured out how to live with Covid-19, some businesses couldn't adjust as in-person, outside-the-house activities ramped up again and consumer behaviors changed.
When businesses scale back, they also slash their marketing budgets. And financial sectors hit by the rising interest rate (in an effort to tamp down on inflation) are seeing their own share of instability.
As workers lose confidence in their job security, we could see fewer people quitting in droves each month, economists say. Job-seekers, meanwhile, are already less likely to quit without a new job lined up, are searching more intensely with greater urgency, and are more likely to accept their first job offer without negotiating.