As of May 9 last year, San Francisco companies had laid off 2,307 workers since the start of 2022. One year later, that figure stands at 49,425.
What started as an act of belt-tightening turned into a gusher of grief. Since The Standard began tracking layoffs in January of last year, 200 SF companies have issued job cuts.
Keeping tabs on layoffs can be challenging. Each official announcement is preceded by speculation and followed by multiple waves of employees being told to pack up their desks. The flurry of news and numbers makes it difficult to track the details of each staff cut.
To get a more accurate count, The Standard compared news about San Francisco layoffs with the figures reported to state officials. Mass layoffs at companies of more than 75 employees must be reported in a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) report to California’s Employment Development Department. While there are exceptions to the rule, companies must give workers 60 days' notice before a given wave of layoffs and must tell the state when and where jobs will be cut.
A closer look at the staff cuts announced by San Francisco companies shows that only a fraction of all the layoffs announced will take place within the city limits.
Of the 49,425 layoffs announced by SF companies, only 8,526 positions will be cut from offices in the city, according to reports filed with the state. The remainder of layoffs are taking place outside the city, have not been reported to the state or—most concerning—have not yet taken place.
State data also allows analysts to count layoffs hitting San Francisco that are made by companies based elsewhere. Since January 2022, a total of 1,715 San Francisco-based positions have been eliminated by companies outside the city, leading to an official total of at least 10,241 layoffs in SF between January 2022 and May 2023.
Salesforce, Twitter and Invitae were the SF-based companies that reported the highest number of job cuts in San Francisco since January 2022. About 86% of the firms reducing staff are technology-driven businesses.
Of the SF layoffs made by companies headquartered outside of the city, San Mateo County-based Meta cut the most jobs. And though the social media company has cut more than 500 jobs in the city since January 2022, the figure pales in comparison with the 15,000 total job cuts announced by the social media company in the past six months.
Notably, non-tech employers American Airlines and Nordstrom ranked second and third on the list with both cuts due to a shutdown of SF operations. Though such events have made headlines recently, business closures only accounted for 10% of all SF layoffs since January 2022.
Even after months of layoffs, San Francisco’s labor market still looks relatively healthy. The county’s unemployment rate ticked up to 3% in March, but it still boasts the second-lowest figure in the state, according to data from the SF Office of the Controller.
More concerning is the loss of 2,100 technology and business services jobs during the month of March. The data shows that new job creation in tech is not outpacing layoffs anymore—a dynamic that kept the SF labor picture rosy last year despite accelerating layoff announcements.
And while early April’s layoff lull brought hope that reductions might be ebbing, announcements have picked up again in recent weeks with big cuts by large SF companies like Dropbox, Lyft and Gap.
The Standard’s San Francisco Layoff Tracker includes all layoffs announced by San Francisco-based companies, as well as SF job cuts reported to the Employment Development Department by companies headquartered elsewhere.
Check out the table below for a complete list of SF layoffs since January 2022.
Maryann Jones Thompson can be reached at [email protected]