White-collar industries such as business services, technology, banking, and real estate could see the biggest layoffs in a downturn of the U.S. economy. Ever since the mass layoffs early in the pandemic, these industries have been adding workers at a rapid clip, economists say. White-collar industries miscalculated on a long surge in growth, and now have staffing numbers far above pre-Covid-19 levels. Jobs in professional and business services are up by more than one million. During the pandemic, low-wage workers bore the brunt of layoffs.
About two-thirds of employers see a recession coming, according to a survey by Principal Financial Group. More broadly, companies are lowering their projected staff costs for next year, eliminating job postings in areas such as accounting and customer support, and aiming to hire fewer people or space out hiring over a longer time, says Dave Gilbertson, vice president of staffing firm UKG. “There are all these sectors out there that are heading into what could be a recession,” he says. “They’re hedging their bets a little bit in the amount of hiring that they’re going to do.”