Jul 7, 2022 - Economy

Sign of the times: Recruiters are checking a layoffs site to find workers

Data: Layoffs.fyi; Chart: Axios Visuals

One sign of the economic times: A website that tracks startup layoffs is serving as a recruiting tool, says Roger Lee, who founded the site, layoffs.fyi, back in March 2020.

Why it matters: Despite what you're hearing about a recession, the job market is still chugging along.

State of play: While layoffs started to pick up this spring, they've so far been contained mostly to fintech or lending, as well as crypto and real estate — the companies most directly affected by the Fed raising rates, Lee points out.

  • Lee's site, which tracks startups and tech companies that recently went public, is a good resource to keep up with (and use to cherry pick talent).
  • "Recruiters and companies are emailing me," Lee tells Axios. They're sending thank you notes because they've used the site — which features spreadsheets with contact information of laid off workers — to hire. Some are asking him if they can plug his data directly into their recruiting software.

Driving the news: We're all waiting on the jobs report later this week to get a better sense of what's going on.

  • Data out yesterday signaled there was some cooling off in May — but still plenty of jobs, as our friends at Axios Macro explained.
  • Lee's website shows that June saw a surge in layoffs in among startups — with 178 "layoff events" that put 16,032 people out of work. The site tracks just those that are publicly reported, so it likely understates the situation somewhat, he says.
  • Behind the surge: Both startup funding and customer demand have cooled — so companies need to manage costs accordingly, says Axios’ venture capital reporter Kia Kokalitcheva.

Backstory: Lee started his website in March 2020, when he was home with his infant daughter on leave. Unemployment was skyrocketing at the time, but the company he worked at was still hiring, and he figured the site could be useful as a way to find people.

  • "I was updating the site constantly," he says.

Layoffs eased up as the Fed stepped in to put an end to the cratering. Then around March this year, a new wave of layoffs in the startup world accelerated.

  • Real estate site Better.com was among the first of this new era, he says.

Flashback: About 20 years ago, a website called F'd Company tracked layoffs in the startup world with a level of snark that Lee, who was in high school back then, intentionally avoids.

  • "Layoffs are not fun for anybody," he says. "These are real people."
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