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The Specter of Mass Layoffs Looms Over the Economy: “A Concerning Situation”

BUSINESSThe Specter of Mass Layoffs Looms Over the Economy: "A Concerning Situation"

In March 2024 alone, four major companies in the region reported their intentions for mass layoffs to the Provincial Labor Office in Szczecin. By autumn, more than 500 people may lose their jobs. For comparison, throughout 2023, 600 individuals were laid off in group dismissals. Recently, there has been increasing news that global giants and companies mainly in the industry and IT sector are reviewing their staffing needs. “Layoffs are never a harbinger of anything good. The situation can be concerning, especially when we are dealing with layoffs in the industry,” says Hanna Mojsiuk, president of the North Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin.

Industry, Metal Sector, and Even… Offshore. Hard Times for the “Hard Economy”

The group layoffs reported last week by the Provincial Labor Office in Szczecin are alarming for entrepreneurs. At this point, however, it is difficult to conclude whether difficult times are approaching for the economy or whether the four reported cases of group layoffs are a serious problem or an incidental situation.

– The companies that have reported plans for group layoffs operate in the industry, in smaller towns of the region, within actively functioning economic zones. I am not worried about the workers, as they will surely be quickly accommodated by other employers. However, we must be very vigilant, as layoffs indicate that something is happening in the labor market and these are not good trends. We see that the industry, metal sector, timber industry, production of components, and structural elements are still in a very difficult situation,” says Hanna Mojsiuk, president of the North Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin. “The worst case is when a company has not diversified its portfolio and has relied on clients from, for example, only Germany. Such companies are now in a difficult position,” adds Hanna Mojsiuk.

Large companies are currently reviewing their staff.

– Such reviews are characteristic of a moment when there is some economic calm and it is possible to look at where operations can be optimized. We see that world giants, companies showing record turnovers are laying off. Here it is not always about savings, sometimes it is about streamlining the structure and optimizing processes. The technologization, the use of artificial intelligence, and the rising labor costs are not insignificant,” adds Hanna Mojsiuk.

The situation in specific sectors of the economy also appears concerning.

– The industry had been operating on momentum and orders acquired even before the pandemic up to 2022. Currently, we see that the aggregation of new contracts is much smaller. Serious problems may be faced by, for example, the timber industry, paper industry, or export-oriented production. Current costs also play a significant role, often daunting entrepreneurs, such as energy costs or the cascading increase in minimum wage,” says Dorota Siedziniewska – Brzeźniak, labor market expert at IDEA HR Group.

– IT recruitments have also stopped. However, we do not have information about layoffs in this sector,” adds the expert.

Many companies may be preparing for mass layoffs, but not all may be realized. Many companies are re-evaluating their positions, for example, when they manage to acquire new clients or when better market conditions appear. Entrepreneurs believe it is still difficult to speak of a wave of group layoffs. Unemployment is still low, and experts are in demand.

– It is difficult, however, to definitively say that we are dealing with a constant trend of employee layoffs that will intensify. Decisions related to employment reduction are often linked to a company’s global policy, in the context of seeking savings in the face of rising labor costs or in response to a significant drop in orders in a particular industry. Interestingly, certain negative personnel movements can be observed in the broadly understood IT sector or other online service areas, where the pandemic period significantly boosted employment levels, and now we are observing a certain correction in this regard,” says Łukasz Żak, lawyer and labor market expert.

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