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Industries that laid off the most workers in September

Stacker used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to rank 19 major industries by the number of layoffs they had in September 2023.

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A business person leaving their job with a cardboard box of their belongings after being laid off.

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World economies were left in disarray after the COVID-19 pandemic shocked supply chains and deeply affected the global workforce—and the U.S. was no exception.

As financial rescue efforts fade into the background, the U.S. economy faces dual crises of stubbornly lingering inflation and persistent uncertainty about a looming downturn stemming from central banks' own prescription for combating inflation: higher interest rates.

Companies spent 2022 pulling back on spending and new hires, moving forward cautiously. About 1.5 million people were laid off or fired in September 2023 nationwide, down about 10% from the previous month and up about 6% from the same time last year.

Stacker used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to rank 19 major industries by the number of layoffs they had in September 2023. The analysis uses seasonally adjusted data. Numbers for the month are preliminary and may be updated.

#19. Federal government

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- September 2023 layoffs: 7,000
--- Change from prior month: +1,000
--- Change from September 2022: -4,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.2% (Rank: #18)
--- Change from prior month: No change
--- Change from September 2022: -0.2 percentage points

The federal government narrowly avoided a shutdown in October when President Joe Biden signed a bill providing temporary funding through mid-November. As the new Nov. 17 deadline approaches, millions of federal workers—including those in military service—again face potential furloughs. Spending cuts could lead to further layoffs, depending on how the federal budget shakes out.

The federal government represents around 6% of all jobs in the country including the military, the departments of labor, education, and justice, and other federal agencies—as well as the U.S. Postal Service. The size of the federal government's payroll has "significantly" decreased over the last 50 years, according to the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

#18. Mining and logging

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- September 2023 layoffs: 9,000
--- Change from prior month: No change
--- Change from September 2022: +2,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.4% (Rank: #4)
--- Change from prior month: No change
--- Change from September 2022: +0.2 percentage points

The mining and logging industry includes oil and gas workers as well as workers who cut timber and produce wood for residential construction. The logging industry faced an unseasonably warm winter in some parts of the U.S. as well as rising costs, which business leaders have cited as the reason for workforce cuts. Worldwide, as economies shift toward clean energy, it's expected that over 400,000 mining workers will be laid off by 2035—largely in China and India, but also affecting workers in the U.S. and other countries.

#17. State and local government, excluding education

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- September 2023 layoffs: 21,000
--- Change from prior month: -11,000
--- Change from September 2022: -22,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.2% (Rank: #18)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.3 percentage points

State and local government jobs have barely recovered from COVID-19 drops. Record federal rescue funds kept Americans spending amid the COVID recession, putting ample money back into some state tax coffers. But those funds have dried up, and many governments are looking at significant budget shortfalls again, which likely means cutting employees.

#16. Finance and insurance

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- September 2023 layoffs: 23,000
--- Change from prior month: -4,000
--- Change from September 2022: -16,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.3% (Rank: #16)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.3 percentage points

Finance and insurance companies enjoyed an employment boom in recent years, spurred by the onset of the pandemic. Americans cooped up in their apartments and houses leapt at the chance to secure larger homes for themselves at historically low interest rates. In today's higher interest rate environment, these firms may find themselves poorly equipped to keep all of their workers on payroll. Industry giants like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have resorted to sizable layoffs in recent months.

#15. Information

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- September 2023 layoffs: 26,000
--- Change from prior month: -2,000
--- Change from September 2022: -5,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.8% (Rank: #11)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.2 percentage points

The information industry includes those working in media, which took a haircut in 2022 as corporate media outlets cut their head counts, citing uncertainty about the future of the economy. Information also includes many tech companies, which were relatively insulated from the COVID-19 recession but have fared worse amid the past year's lower sales and economic turmoil. What started with Meta and Twitter late last year has evolved into a lengthy series of layoffs at tech giants and startups alike.

#14. Educational services

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- September 2023 layoffs: 29,000
--- Change from prior month: -5,000
--- Change from September 2022: -2,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.7% (Rank: #14)
--- Change from prior month: -0.2 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.1 percentage points

The nation's educational services industry comprises private school teachers and college professors, employees of education technology companies, and nontraditional educators like online tutors. Colleges have struggled with a decline in overall enrollment since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some in the industry fear some institutions may downsize.

#12. Real estate and rental and leasing (tie)

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- September 2023 layoffs: 30,000
--- Change from prior month: +9,000
--- Change from September 2022: +13,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.2% (Rank: #5)
--- Change from prior month: +0.3 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.5 percentage points

The real estate industry was among the first to feel the effects of rising interest rates as the Federal Reserve began its attempts to control inflation in 2022. Thousands of real estate agents and brokers have lost their jobs since rates began increasing and inventory has remained squeezed.

#12. State and local government education (tie)

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- September 2023 layoffs: 30,000
--- Change from prior month: -22,000
--- Change from September 2022: -4,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.3% (Rank: #16)
--- Change from prior month: -0.2 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: No change

Public school teachers are represented in the state and local government education sector, a field that has struggled to attract and retain teachers over the last decade as public school funding has dried up. Record inflation has made teaching wages close to unlivable in some places as conservative elected officials have slashed public education funding. Public schools may be forced to cut teachers in the event that costs rise to unmanageable levels.

#11. Nondurable goods manufacturing

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- September 2023 layoffs: 50,000
--- Change from prior month: -10,000
--- Change from September 2022: +2,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.0% (Rank: #8)
--- Change from prior month: -0.2 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: No change

The phrase "nondurable goods" is a fancy way of saying any item you can purchase that will go bad if left on a shelf for too long, or will only provide the consumer with a single use before it's gone. These items include food and cleaning products or even cigarettes. Americans working in nondurable goods manufacturing might work for a food processor like Frito-Lay or a makeup brand.

#10. Wholesale trade

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- September 2023 layoffs: 51,000
--- Change from prior month: +18,000
--- Change from September 2022: +13,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.8% (Rank: #11)
--- Change from prior month: +0.3 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.2 percentage points

Wholesale trade companies are intermediaries that don't necessarily advertise their business to consumers. They operate in the background, buying inventory from manufacturers and reselling it to retailers. An American working in wholesale may be employed by Costco or a medical wholesaler like McKesson.

#9. Other services

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- September 2023 layoffs: 56,000
--- Change from prior month: -19,000
--- Change from September 2022: +11,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.9% (Rank: #9)
--- Change from prior month: -0.4 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.1 percentage points

The so-called "other services" category of American industry includes service-oriented jobs that don't fit neatly into any other category. It includes jobs like equipment repair, religious work, and end-of-life care, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

#8. Durable goods manufacturing

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- September 2023 layoffs: 65,000
--- Change from prior month: -11,000
--- Change from September 2022: +19,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.8% (Rank: #11)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.2 percentage points

Durable goods include any item purchased that gets reused over time and does not expire. These can be plastic storage bins, children's toys, and even technology like smartphones. Manufacturing of durable goods saw a boom in the first two years of the pandemic as consumers spent their incomes on things they could safely enjoy from their homes. Some of those manufacturers have had to scale back head counts as consumer demand has dropped off in the goods-producing sector and moved into services—and as inflation has limited consumers' spending power.

#7. Arts, entertainment, and recreation

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- September 2023 layoffs: 78,000
--- Change from prior month: +26,000
--- Change from September 2022: +13,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 3.1% (Rank: #1)
--- Change from prior month: +1.0 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.3 percentage points

The arts and entertainment sector was among the hardest hit in the steep COVID-19 recession of 2020. Though it has rebounded, the industry faces new challenges. TV and movie writers were on strike from May 2 until Sept. 24, and actors walked out in mid-July. These stoppages brought many productions to a halt, meaning other workers in this industry weren't needed—and some may not be until the actors' strike is also resolved.

#6. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities

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- September 2023 layoffs: 88,000
--- Change from prior month: -15,000
--- Change from September 2022: -19,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.2% (Rank: #5)
--- Change from prior month: -0.2 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.3 percentage points

The transportation, warehousing, and utilities industry encompasses the massive supply chain in the U.S., which experienced unending hiccups and shocks throughout the last several years. Freight shipping companies have laid off staff over the last year, citing difficult economic conditions that have tamped down demand.

#5. Retail trade

Monkey Business Images // Shutterstock

- September 2023 layoffs: 137,000
--- Change from prior month: -17,000
--- Change from September 2022: -15,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.9% (Rank: #9)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.1 percentage points

Retail trade is one of the largest employers in the country, including retail floor workers as well as those employed within the many corporate branches at retail giants like Target and Kroger. Workers in these industries have faced some of the most difficult working conditions as they served customers through the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, companies like Walmart and Nordstrom have announced cuts to their workforces.

#4. Health care and social assistance

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- September 2023 layoffs: 147,000
--- Change from prior month: -2,000
--- Change from September 2022: +24,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 0.7% (Rank: #14)
--- Change from prior month: No change
--- Change from September 2022: +0.1 percentage points

The health care and social assistance sector is experiencing rising demand for its services as Americans continue to get older and live longer on average. The pandemic exhausted health care workers and accelerated the shift from in-hospital care to home care for elderly patients. While medical care costs have risen with inflation, the health care industry is also at a crisis point trying to attract enough new nurses to care for Americans.

#3. Construction

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- September 2023 layoffs: 150,000
--- Change from prior month: -25,000
--- Change from September 2022: -43,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.9% (Rank: #2)
--- Change from prior month: -0.3 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: -0.6 percentage points

Homebuying was rampant in 2021 with record low interest rates as the Fed tried to get people to spend amid COVID-19. Now, the Fed has raised interest rates quickly to temper the inflation that followed. This has slowed the greater real estate market and, in turn, home construction.

#2. Accommodation and food services

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- September 2023 layoffs: 154,000
--- Change from prior month: -11,000
--- Change from September 2022: +64,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.1% (Rank: #7)
--- Change from prior month: -0.1 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.4 percentage points

The accommodation and food services industry comprises hotels, restaurants, and fast food chains that employ tens of millions of Americans. These leisure services struggled in the first two years of the pandemic as Americans pulled back on activities they felt could expose them to COVID-19, but have rebounded as people have gotten back into their normal habits. Record inflation has tempered some of that recovery; the higher costs of essential expenses mean there is less left over for Americans to treat themselves by dining out or taking a trip.

#1. Professional and business services

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- September 2023 layoffs: 367,000
--- Change from prior month: -64,000
--- Change from September 2022: +50,000
- September 2023 layoff rate: 1.6% (Rank: #3)
--- Change from prior month: -0.3 percentage points
--- Change from September 2022: +0.2 percentage points

The professional and business services industry comprises attorneys, marketing, accountants, and other professionals who support businesses in mostly white-collar positions. Many of these positions have been safe over the past three years as demand from consumers remained hot and companies seemingly couldn't find enough workers to fill jobs. But interest-rate hikes, bank failures, and challenges among other industries serviced by these professionals spell trouble. Tech companies' current struggles, for example, trickle down to business services as costs are cut in the sector.