SEATTLE'S MORNING NEWS

Colleen O’Brien: Good news for jobs amid massive layoffs — AI engineers

Feb 12, 2024, 6:09 AM | Updated: 9:14 am

AI layoffs...

Meta conducted four rounds of layoffs in 2023, totaling more than 21,000 jobs. (Photo illustration: CFOTO/Getty Images)

(Photo illustration: CFOTO/Getty Images)

Layoffs happening in the tech world is a topic I report on a fair amount for Seattle’s Morning News. During the opening bell at 6:35 a.m. each morning, it’s not unusual to hear me talk about a spike in layoffs related to economic conditions. But, those stories come and go. What we’ve seen over the last two years are continual bursts of tech layoffs.

This week, Dave and I called up our KIRO Newsradio colleague and GeekWire’s own Mike Lewis to help us understand what’s happening and if that can give us a glance into the tech world’s crystal ball.

“I’d tell people to expect more,” Lewis answered when we asked if the layoffs would begin to slow.

More on layoffs in WA: Thousands of Raterlabs employees laid off 1 year after pay raise

Lewis said there have been roughly 200,000 layoffs, broadly speaking, in the last two years. All of the Big Five tech companies are involved: Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Meta.

“Any time you’re going to hear about a tech layoff, you’re going to hear about something in Seattle,” Lewis said. “But all of these same companies, while they’re having layoffs, are also doing fairly intense hiring — primarily in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector.”

Despite shedding thousands and thousands of jobs, tech company revenue has shot up, but Lewis claimed that’s not necessarily due to shedding jobs. Instead, companies are finding ways to do more with less even with workers not being replaced by AI — yet.

“AI still can’t do everything these companies want it to do,” Lewis said. “And, in fact, the AI departments in all of these companies, Apple included, which is secretly working on something, says it is pretty spectacular. Those areas of the company are actually hiring fairly rapidly.”

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The good news for jobs in a story about layoffs? Lewis stated there is a dearth of qualified A.I. engineers and they are getting snapped up by every company because every company feels like they need to have a dog in this fight. Know any future college students looking for an area of study? *hint hint*

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Colleen O’Brien: Good news for jobs amid massive layoffs — AI engineers