How is Apple avoiding tech's mass layoffs? New report explores Apple's tactics

Apple Park shining in the sun with blue sky
(Image credit: Apple)

The first few weeks of 2023 have shown a bleak outlook for the tech industry with mass layoffs from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. In the world of huge tech corporations, one that has avoided a mass exodus of its workforce is Apple, which appears to be doing things differently.

Since the start of 2022, tech companies have laid off over 200,000 members of staff with the aim of cutting costs during a difficult economic period post-pandemic due to a huge increase in headcount over the last three years. According to The Wall Street Journal, this extensive hiring was not met on the same scale by Apple:

"The iPhone maker has been better positioned than many rivals to date in part because it added employees at a much slower clip than those companies during the pandemic […]

"From its fiscal year-end in September 2019 to September 2022, Apple’s workforce grew by about 20% to approximately 164,000 full-time employees.

"Meanwhile, over roughly the same period, the employee count at Amazon doubled, Microsoft’s rose 53%, Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s increased 57% and Facebook owner Meta’s ballooned 94%."

Playing it safe

Apple’s more conservative approach to hiring throughout the pandemic has allowed them to avoid layoffs unlike their competitors and means that the company hasn’t seen mass layoffs since the return of Steve Jobs in 1997.

The conservatism of Apple’s hiring has allowed it to portray an image of safety within an industry that looks incredibly volatile in the current climate. The vulnerable shifts of the economy due to COVID-19 led tech giants like Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft to take an accelerated approach to their projects only for an economic recession to knock them back to reality. 

Meta, for example, turned its focus to the metaverse, a project that is unlikely to reap any financial rewards anytime soon for the company. Apple, on the other hand, is far more risk-averse with a focus on improving its best iPhone hardware, sales of which equates to around 50% of its business. With more and more people working from home, Apple’s hardware sales haven’t faltered due to demand but more so because of potential production issues. 

Apple is set to reveal its quarterly earnings on 1 February for the holiday period. Mass manufacturing issues related to COVID-19 policies in the Chinese factories used to build iPhones have led to the potential of slower growth than expected. Next week’s financial results will determine the security of Apple’s workforce moving forward as the impact on manufacturing could be the catalyst for negative change. 

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.