“This is a secondary impact from the pandemic. And it will slow the recovery as we see more layoffs ripple through different industries,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC.
If it continues, the pink slips hitting office workers could have wide-reaching consequences for the economy, impacting everything from homebuying and shopping to credit card defaults.
“This slow trickle of white-collar layoffs is very impactful because they spend the most,” said Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and chief strategist at Quill Intelligence.
1,000 jobs cut at Charles Schwab
“There were so many branch managers let go this week,” said John, a branch manager at a TD Ameritrade who found out Tuesday his job was eliminated.
John, who requested that CNN Business not use his real name, is the sole breadwinner in his family and has two children.
“I haven’t had to actively look for a job in, I can’t even tell you how long. Maybe ever,” he said. “This is going to all be different for me. I’m still processing it.”
To be sure, the white-collar workers have fared far better during the pandemic than blue-collar workers, who tend to be younger and have less education. Many people who normally work in offices have been able to do their jobs from home, albeit sometimes with the challenge of caring for children home from school. Higher-paid workers also tend to have more savings and assets to fall back on during tough times.
And many companies provide generous separation agreements to people laid off in corporate restructurings. In John’s case, he said he and others laid off by Charles Schwab are getting a severance package in addition to paid health insurance for a period of time.
“I have time to figure it out,” he said. “But I don’t know what to expect in the middle of a pandemic.”
‘I do feel like it’s spreading’
But now there are mounting signs of white-collar job cuts.
But while the unemployment rate among people with some college experience is lower, it ticked higher in September to 8.1%.
The layoff moratorium is toast
In another example, Allstate announced in late September that it would lay off 3,800 employees. The insurance giant blamed the job cuts in part on the sharp drop in driving during the pandemic and the refunds given to customers.
This isn’t just a private-sector phenomenon.
At the onset of the pandemic, some companies pledged not to lay off employees. That promise bought them time to assess the situation, and perhaps a bit of good publicity. Clearly, the layoff moratorium is over.
“There was an initial sense that maybe this would last a month and people would be back at the office,” said PNC’s Faucher. “That obviously has not been borne out and businesses are recognizing this will be with us for a while.”
‘I didn’t see it coming’
In August, Marc Chatow found out through a Zoom call that he was being laid off from his job in the accounting and finance department of Dignity Health, which merged with another healthcare company.
“It just totally came out of the blue. I didn’t see it coming,” said Chatow, who lives in Phoenix and had been with the company for 11 years.
Chatow received a three-month severance package, but he was worried about how he would find another job, especially at 53 years old. And just a few weeks after being laid off, Chatow’s partner was diagnosed with cancer.
After a frustrating two-month search for a new job, Chatow accepted an offer Friday morning from another healthcare company at comparable pay.
“There were days I was depressed and I would get upset,” Chatow said. “But you’ve just got to keep going at it. You might feel like giving up, but tomorrow is a new day.”
Have you recently lost a job or been forced to quit during the pandemic? If you’d like to share your story, contact reporter Matt Egan at Matt.Egan@CNN.com