Are Tech Startup Layoffs Actually… Declining?

Over the past several months, there’s been a steady drumbeat of headlines and news stories about tech layoffs. Big companies such as Meta are reportedly unleashing “quiet layoffs,” even as startups in turbulent industries (such as fintech) have undergone very public bloodlettings.

Beyond the headlines, how bad are the current layoffs? That’s an excellent question, and an exact answer is hard to determine, as not all private companies will report layoffs or even overall headcount. However, layoffs.fyi, which crowdsources its data from a number of sources, can provide us with some idea of layoff trends among tech startups (it also counts large, publicly traded tech companies such as Uber, Airbnb, and Salesforce as “startups,” so its coverage is actually comprehensive).

Here’s the latest layoffs.fyi breakdown of both companies laying off workers and the total number of layoffs. As you can see, layoffs spiked over the summer before declining last month:

Does this mean we’re past a significant layoff spike? Not so fast; September’s data could represent a pause or dip in a larger trend. But it might also hint that many companies have cut to their maximum for the time being.

The unemployment rate for tech occupations crept up to 2.3 percent in August, according to a new analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s up from July, when the tech unemployment rate stood at 1.7 percent, but still below the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.

Despite those overall numbers, headlines and social-media posts about layoffs are making many technology professionals nervous. In a recent Dice survey, some 56 percent of respondents said they were worried about the economy—well ahead of the 20 percent who said they weren’t worried, as well as the 23 percent who said they were only “a little” worried.