Media Biz Holds Up Amid Broader Surge in Layoffs

Media Biz Holds Up Amid Broader Surge Layoffs
Illustration: VIP+; Adobe Stock

This week CNN began making long-awaited layoffs and AMC Networks signaled its own imminent job cuts, sending a painful reminder to the media business that times are getting harder. 

But even as companies across a wide range of industries seem to be slimming down in recent months at an alarming rate, media is actually holding up fairly well by comparison, according to new data from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

As of the end of November, the media industry announced 3,372 layoffs, far less than sectors including technology, automotive, health care/products, services and retail experienced. And even as the headlines about job cuts in news organizations continue to cause concern, Challenger’s data showed layoffs across digital, print and broadcast news totaled 1,446 year-to-date, which is on track to be the lowest total since 2010, unless a monumental event happens in December. It’s worth noting CNN’s Wednesday announcement would be included in December’s data.

Economists are predicting a recession in 2023, and as a result, companies are beginning to trim the fat and pare down spending. Cost-cutting has become a major theme across the business world, as companies look to prepare for uncertainty ahead. As a matter of fact, “cost-cutting” was the most cited reason among companies for announced job cuts this year followed by “market conditions,” “demand downturn” and “restructuring,” according to Challenger.   

In November, U.S. based companies announced a total of 76,835 job cuts, which was a 127% increase from October and a whopping 417% jump from November 2021. So far this year, employers announced plans to cut 320,173 jobs, which was 6% higher than the 302,918 cuts announced in the first eleven months last year, according to Challenger.  

The tech sector had 80,978 job cut announcements this year, the highest year-to-date total for the sector since Challenger began tracking the data in 2000. 

With a looming recession on the horizon, many are looking at history for clues on what to expect. As VIP+ outlined in July, the biggest spikes in layoffs occur during in recessionary periods. After the dot-com bubble, there were a whopping 43,420 media job cuts in the recession that followed in 2001, according to Challenger. Then during the Great Recession, which ran from the end of 2007 until 2009, there were a combined 51,149 job cuts from 2008 to 2009. The COVID recession in 2020 resulted in 30,711 layoffs that year. 

Even though the media industry is faring relatively well despite the current conditions, that could be a double-edged sword. While it’s good news right now that fewer-than-anticipated have lost their jobs, it could mean that much of the pain still lies ahead.  

Fortunately, while economists are fairly certain that a recession will make landfall next year, many have noted that it will likely be far less painful and long compared to previous recessions. However, as is usually the case, the mere anticipation of a recession has already wreaked havoc on the majority of industries.