• Meta Plans 10,000 More Layoffs, Inflation Rate Drops, Office Attendance Holds Steady

    Meta Plans 10,000 More Layoffs

    Plans from Facebook parent Meta to lay off 10,000 workers globally, after the 11,000 cuts made in November, adds to job reductions hitting the technology industry so far in 2023.

    In a letter to employees published on the company website, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the Menlo Park, California-based company plans restructurings and layoffs in its tech groups in late April, to be followed by similar actions in its business groups in late May. The company is looking to boost efficiency amid declining advertiser demand.

    He said some actions may be playing out through year’s end, as the company targets a summer completion of its analysis of current hybrid workplace arrangements “so we can further refine our distributed work model.” Meta has already taken real estate actions including placing large blocks of office space on the market for subleasing.

    With less hiring now taking place, Zuckerberg said Meta is further reducing the size of its recruiting team. Meta will also “make our organization flatter by removing multiple layers of management,” the CEO said. Nearly 5,000 unfilled jobs will be eliminated.

    Technology accounted for 35% of the total 180,713 job reductions announced by U.S.-based companies during January and February, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce and Google parent Alphabet announced 63,216 layoffs in the first two months of 2023, far above the 187 tech job cuts in the same time last year.

    Inflation Rate Drops

    The nation’s annual inflation rate was 6% in February, down from 6.4% in January and the lowest since September 2021, according to Tuesday’s Labor Department data. But analysts noted prices remain high by historical standards, putting pressure on consumers while not eliminating the possibility of more Federal Reserve rate hikes aimed at taming inflation.

    “Unfortunately, at a time when winter storms and cold weather have battered much of the country, the price of electricity and fuel oil remain elevated, with the former increasing by 12.9%,” Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData, said in a statement regarding the new government numbers.

    “Food and groceries are up by 10.2%,” Saunders said. “This stickiness in the most essential categories, where it is hard for consumers to cut volumes, means the squeeze on discretionary budgets continues.”

    Jeffrey Roach, chief economist at financial services firm LPL Financial, noted housing costs accounted for more than 70% of February’s 0.4% monthly price inflation over January levels. “This component will not likely be a significant driver of inflation by year’s end as more multifamily units come to market,” Roach said in a Tuesday research report, adding inflation overall should be cooling further in coming months.

    Even amid current banking scares, Roach said the Federal Reserve “will still prioritize price stability over growth” and likely raise its key lending rate by a quarter-point at its next meeting later this month.

    With more volatile food and energy prices excluded, the government said consumer prices in February rose 0.5% from the prior month and 5.5% from a year earlier. Among energy prices, gasoline was a relative source of relief, rising 2% in the past year compared with a 5.2% increase for the overall energy index, which includes heating oil and electricity. 

    Office Attendance Holds Steady

    Office attendance in 10 large U.S. cities averaged 50.1% of pre-pandemic levels for the week that ended March 8, the third consecutive week at that rate in Kastle Systems’ “Back to Work Barometer.”

    Based on anonymous keycard data from clients’ office properties, the security technology firm’s weekly average stayed close to the peak 50.4% reached Jan. 25 but hasn’t budged since mid-February.

    Six of the 10 cities in the barometer registered mostly slight decreases from the prior week, with four posting small increases. Most major U.S. cities have yet to reach 50% of pre-pandemic attendance, even as more workers spend at least part of the workweek in offices under company rules.

    The usual Texas cities led the latest attendance numbers, with Austin at 65.7%, Houston at 62.4% and Dallas at 51.7%. They were followed by Chicago at 50.3%, Los Angeles at 48.5% and New York at 47.7%.

    Source: www.CoStar.com