Big layoffs grab our attention, but plenty of hiring is happening too

 It seems like every week a different tech company announces layoffs — including news Thursday from DocuSign that it’s cutting around 10% of its workforce.

But there’s plenty of hiring news that gets less coverage. Asset manager Fidelity, for instance, says it’s planning to hire 4,000 new workers in the first half of this year. So how do we square all the different stories we’re hearing about the labor market?

There’s so much hiring happening in the hospitality industry right now that some new restaurants are sitting empty waiting to open, said Marty Tarabar at recruitment agency Gecko Hospitality. And hotels are limiting how many rooms they book.

“When I ask their management what’s going on, they say, ‘Listen, we don’t have the staff to do it, so we’d rather just do it right in a smaller footprint,'” he said.

Most employers have increased salaries and benefits, but there just aren’t enough qualified candidates to go around, he said. A lot of hospitality workers who were laid off during the pandemic found new jobs in retail and warehouses.

“They’re working fewer hours, making the same pay and they’re home with their families not working til 2 o’clock in the morning in a kitchen. And they’re scratching their heads saying, ‘Why would I go back?'” Tarabar said.

Leisure and hospitality was the leading sector for job growth last month, and employment in those industries is still below what it was pre-pandemic. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than 50 years.

“The picture right now is actually still pretty rosy, so you’re not seeing that kind of slowdown in a lot of the topline jobs numbers,” said Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

So why is there so much economic anxiety in the air? The truth is, hiring and firing happen all the time. But as the Fed raises interest rates, we’re all a little sensitive to layoff announcements coming from big companies.

“I think that weighs on people and people may think that their job is less secure than it actually is,” Gould said.

Most of the layoffs making headlines are in tech, which is its own special case study. The industry over-hired during the pandemic, per Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed — which is a Marketplace sponsor.

“One way to interpret what’s going on right now: It’s less them sort of having to flesh everything to the bone, it’s more that they are just retreating from the really optimistic outlook they had,” Bunker said.

Postings for tech jobs have declined 40%, he added. But they’re still higher than what they were pre-pandemic. It could be a sign that many of those laid-off workers are finding new jobs relatively fast.

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