In June 2022, the U.S. inflation rate hit a 40-year high of 9.1 percent before falling to 5 percenti in March 2023. While overall inflation has begun tapering off, people continue facing sky-high prices in certain sectors, particularly at the gas pump and the grocery store, where prices of meat, eggs, dairy and fresh fruit and vegetables have soared.ii
In the face of such challenges, many people found it difficult to cover even the most basic expensesiii—their mortgage or rent payment, health-care or groceries, for example.
With consumers curbing their spending and the cost of doing business steadily rising, organizations have had to adjust their business model. We are witnessing widespread layoffs, particularly in the tech sector, where more than 170,000 people lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2023, compared to 164,000 in all of 2022.iv
This should not be construed as a sign that American companies are shedding employees in droves. On the contrary, some are finding themselves laying off workers in one part of the business, while desperately seeking talent in other areas. Others are struggling to hire enough workers altogether, leading to service delays and reduced business hours.v With unemployment holding steady at a 50-year-plus low, there are simply more jobs than there are available workers. As of February 22, 2023, for example, there were over 10 million job openings in the U.S., but only 5.7 million unemployed workers.vi