Turns out they weren’t done.

If the first month of 2024 offers any indication, America’s largest employers — fresh off mass layoffs last year — are going to keep cutting. In just the past few weeks, Alphabet, Amazon, Citigroup, Ebay, Macy’s, Microsoft, Shell, Sports Illustrated, and Wayfair have all announced job cuts.

On Tuesday, United Parcel Service said it plans to cut 12,000 jobs and call workers back to the office five days a week.

The layoffs come as the economy is sending mixed signals. On one hand, US job openings just rose to a three-month high. Stocks are near an all-time high, once again fueling talk of an economic soft landing. And a key gauge of US consumer sentiment recently jumped by the most since 2005.

On the other hand, the growing list of high-profile job cuts is adding a jolt of uncertainty to the white-collar world where fears of a recession and displacement by generative artificial intelligence have become standard water-cooler discussion. The growing crackdown on remote work is also causing anxiety.

“It creates a ripple effect and a fear factor,” said Ariel Schur, chief executive officer of ABS Staffing Solutions in New York.

How worried should you be about your job? Bloomberg News interviewed economists, recruiters, consultants and career coaches across the country to assess the current state of the job market and get strategies for navigating it. Here is what they said:

Who is likely to be cut?
Middle managers and remote workers beware.

“Companies often target middle management for cuts. They try to streamline,” said Daniel Zhao, lead economist at Glassdoor. “Middle managers are often squeezed from both sides at a time like this. They’re often cut but they’re also often responsible for implementing these measures to get more efficient.”

At the same time, the current round of layoffs has highlighted the vulnerabilities of remote workers. Some reports have indicated that employers would target remote workers at a time when many companies are trying to bring staff back into the office.

“Being remote makes it easier to let you go,” Schur said. “You don’t have that day-to-day interaction. It’s easier on a human level to let go of someone. It’s easier to utilize that as a rationale for layoffs.”

George Penn, a managing vice president at the consulting firm Gartner, said the best firms ask two questions when considering whom to lay off: Is the employee making money for the firm now? And will the employee make money for the firm in the future? Someone who can’t answer “yes” to either question should tread carefully.

What can you do to prepare?
Show up.

That’s the suggestion of Daniel Keum, associate professor of management at Columbia Business School, gives to employees anxious about their positions in the current climate.

“The era of remote work is in decline. If the work can be done remotely, it can be moved abroad,” he said. “Show up, show commitment.”

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