Tech Job Cuts Put Spotlight on Perks, Truck Trailer Sales Signal Supply Chain Recovery, Home Sales D
Tech Job Losses Draw Spotlight to Perks
The growing list of major technology companies announcing planned job cuts, joined by Google parent Alphabet’s move to lay off 12,000, has some in the industry wondering what will become of the high-end perks and services once offered as these companies looked to recruit talented workers.
Office space demand has already taken a hit as some firms like Facebook parent Meta have exited leases to reduce overhead as economic conditions cut into profit, dealing a blow to nearby stores, restaurants and hotels. While many laid-off workers are still managing to find other jobs in tech, a New York Times headline predicted based on rising layoffs that the free lunches and other perks could go next as “The Era of Happy Tech Workers is Over.”
Nadia Rawlinson, former chief people officer at Slack, wrote in the Times’ Jan. 19 opinion piece, that “after two decades of fighting for talent, chief executives are using this period to adjust for years of management indulgence that left them with a generation of entitled workers."
Technology companies announced 16,193 job cuts in December, bringing the 2022 industry total to 97,171, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Technology was by far the largest generator of U.S. job cuts during 2022, rising 649% from the 12,975 reductions announced in 2021.
Truck Trailer Sales Surge
Truck trailer manufacturers took a near record 57,300 orders in December for the big-rig cargo carriers, a potential sign of return to pre-pandemic functioning of U.S. supply chain operations that rely heavily on deliveries using trucks.
Industry data firm ACT Research said that count was the second-highest number for a single month since it began tracking the metric in 1996. The figure marked a nearly 46% increase from November and was 115% higher than December 2021.
Logistics tangles resulting from delays in deliveries for goods stuck in Asian ports because of the pandemic have not completely been resolved, but the rise in trailer orders indicates companies are now more actively arranging for shipment of goods between manufacturing, warehouse and other destinations.
“Most trailer makers continue to see demand exceeding capacity through the end of 2023,” said Jennifer McNealy, a market research director at ACT, in a statement. “Some have mentioned an erosion in confidence, but are also quick to note this hasn’t appeared in the form of [order] cancellations.”
Researchers said the total 361,500 trailer orders for full-year 2022 was well ahead of the 249,400 in 2021. “Approximately 306,000 trailers were built in 2022, and our projections point to a continuation of that upward trend into 2023,” McNealy said.
Home Sales Drop Further
Existing home sales in the U.S. dropped for the 11th straight month in December, even as mortgage rates have generally been edging lower over the past several weeks.
The National Association of Realtors reported December’s approximately 4 million homes sold marked a 1.5% decline from November and a 34% drop from December 2021. Affordability, inflation and other economic factors are keeping prospective buyers, including apartment renters, on the sidelines.
“December was another difficult month for buyers, who continue to face limited inventory and high mortgage rates,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement Jan. 20. “However, expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”
Government loan-backing agency Freddie Mac said its latest weekly survey of lenders showed 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaging 6.15% for the week ended Jan. 19, down from the prior week’s 6.33% but still well above 3.56% in the comparable week of 2022. The rate for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.28%, down from 5.52% a week earlier but up from 2.79% a year earlier.
“As inflation continues to moderate, mortgage rates declined again this week,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said in a Jan. 19 statement. “Rates are at their lowest since September of last year, boosting both homebuyer demand and homebuilder sentiment.”