Minnesota bucking tech layoffs trend so far

IBM joined a national tech industry trend today by announcing about 3,900 layoffs. But Minnesota tech companies seem to be bucking the trend. This month, Amazon laid off 18,000 employees, Google laid off 12,000, and Microsoft let go of 10,000 workers.

The tech sector started slashing jobs late in 2022 and the cuts have accelerated in 2023.

But unlike their counterparts across the country, Minnesota tech workers aren’t lining up at unemployment offices like this one.

Tech sector unemployment is barely above 1%.

"They have these roller coasters that we don’t have here in the Midwest," said tech recruiter Paul DeBettignies of MNHeadhunter.com. "They have these amazing highs. They’re going up and the view is amazing, and they get to the top, and it tips over to the other side, and it’s like ‘Let’s just not puke on the way down’ which is kind of where they’re at right now."

DeBettignies says some local tech companies are hiring now, but they’re slower to add positions and slower to lay people off, so they just never get as bloated.

"Here in the Midwest, we don’t do that," DeBettignies said. "We’re a very practical group of people."

The Twin Cities aren’t immune to tech layoffs.

Cybersecurity software company Code42 let go of about 15% of its workforce in November, for example.

But DeBettignies says Minnesota tech companies don’t have the extreme highs and lows — the rollercoaster rides.

Minnesota Business Partnership executive director Charlie Weaver says that’s partly because the state isn’t home to the now-traditional, huge tech companies.

"Our companies are more blended, you know?" Weaver said. "They certainly rely on technology. You think of a Medtronic and all the innovation they do."

Weaver says the top issue for Minnesota businesses is whether there will be enough workers to fill their open jobs.

So the area could be in position to absorb some of the tech employees laid off in other states. But in the Minnesota tradition, not too many.