The Economic Impact of COVID-19: According to Business Leaders
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The Economic Impact of COVID-19, According to Business Leaders

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The Economic Impact of COVID-19, According to Global Business Leaders

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The Economic Impact of COVID-19: Positives and Negatives

The global pandemic has disrupted business activities worldwide. But COVID-19’s economic impact has varied across regions, and the consequences have been largely dependent on a region’s economic position.

Using survey data from the World Economic Forum’s 20th Global Competitiveness Report, this graphic showcases the economic impact of COVID-19 worldwide. This year’s survey was conducted between February and July 2020 and includes responses from 11,866 business executives across 126 economies.

As you’ll see, the data was collected with the specific focus of contrasting the pandemic’s effects on developing economies compared to advanced economies.

Top Negative Impacts of COVID-19

By comparing business leaders’ responses in 2020 to their answers over the last three years, some clear trends have emerged.

In advanced economies, the top negative economic impact of COVID-19 has been a decline in competition, followed by reduced collaboration between companies and a growing challenge in finding and hiring skilled workers:

RankFactor% Change (2020 vs. 3-Yr Avg)
1Competition in network services-2.9%
2Collaboration between
companies
-2.6%
3Competition
in professional services
-2.3%
4Competition in retail services-1.8%
5Ease of finding skilled employees-1.5%

What’s driving this reduced competition in advanced economies?

One factor could be the increased use of online platforms. Ecommerce is heavily dominated by a select number of retailers. Because of this, bigger retailers like Amazon have seen massive boosts in their online sales, while many smaller brick-and-mortar businesses have been struggling.

While negative impacts on advanced economies are centered around market concentration and talent gaps, developing countries have faced different problems this year, like increased crime and governance issues:

RankFactor% Change (2020 vs. 3-Yr Avg)
1Business costs of crime and violence-2.5%
2Judicial
independence
-2.4%
3Organized crime-1.2%
4Extent of market dominance-0.6%
5Public trust of politicians-0.4%

It’s important to note that in the 2018 and 2019 surveys, organized crime and business costs related to crime and violence were trending downward. Because of this, the World Economic Forum suggests that we consider this year’s increase in these areas as as a temporary COVID-induced setback rather than a long-term issue.

Top Positive Impacts of COVID-19

Despite the struggles brought on by COVID-19, the pandemic has also triggered positive change. In fact, business leaders perceived more positive developments this year than negative ones.

In advanced economies, the top positive impacts were government responsiveness to change, followed by internal collaboration within companies:

RankFactor% Change (2020 vs. 3-Yr Avg)
1Government's responsiveness to change8.2%
2Collaboration within a company4.6%
3Venture capital availability4.4%
4Social safety net protection4.2%
5Soundness of banks4.0%

Interestingly, internal collaboration improved while external collaboration got worse. This is likely because companies had to adapt to changing work environments, while also learning how to collaborate with one another through remote working.

Internal collaboration didn’t just improve in advanced economies. In fact, developing economies experienced several of the top positive impacts that advanced economies saw as well:

RankFactor % Change (2020 vs. 3-Yr Avg)
1Collaboration within a company6.9%
2Government's responsiveness to change6.8%
3Efficiency of train transport services5.9%
4Venture capital availability5.9%
5Country capacity to attract talent5.8%

While perceptions on official responsiveness to change increased, public trust in politicians decreased slightly. This indicates that, while government responses to COVID-19 may have been received well in developing economies, overall feelings towards political leaders did not waiver.

How Have Countries Stayed Strong During the Pandemic?

While the impacts of COVID-19 varied between advanced and developing economies, business leaders across the board identified some common features that helped countries remain resilient:

  1. Economic digitization and digital skills
    Social distancing has been a key response to the pandemic. Because of this, countries that were set up for remote work have fared better than others. Netherlands, New Zealand, and Finland are a few examples.
  2. Safety nets and financial soundness
    Countries with established support systems for companies and citizens were in a better position to keep their economies afloat. Denmark and Norway provided much-needed support to their households, while Taiwan and the U.S. were able to aid businesses thanks to strong financial systems.
  3. Governance and planning
    Balancing health priorities with economic and fiscal policies was a delicate dance this year. Countries that provided relatively stable political frameworks were Singapore, Luxembourg, Austria, and the United Arab Emirates.
  4. Healthcare system and R&D
    A strong healthcare system meant widespread access to health services needed during the pandemic, as well as established public health protocols. Japan, Spain, and Taiwan were good examples of this.

Will these key features of competitiveness remain effective measures of a strong economy in 2021, or will our benchmarks for success evolve post-pandemic?

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Technology

Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs Since 2020

How bad are the current layoffs in the tech sector? This visual reveals the 20 biggest tech layoffs since the start of the pandemic.

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layoffs in tech

Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs This Decade

The events of the last few years could not have been predicted by anyone. From a global pandemic and remote work as the standard, to a subsequent hiring craze, rising inflation, and now, mass layoffs.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, essentially laid off the equivalent of a small town just weeks ago, letting go of 12,000 people—the biggest layoffs the company has ever seen in its history. Additionally, Amazon and Microsoft have also laid off 10,000 workers each in the last few months, not to mention Meta’s 11,000.

This visual puts the current layoffs in the tech industry in context and ranks the 20 biggest tech layoffs of the 2020s using data from the tracker, Layoffs.fyi.

The Top 20 Layoffs of the 2020s

Since 2020, layoffs in the tech industry have been significant, accelerating in 2022 in particular. Here’s a look at the companies that laid off the most people over the last three years.

RankCompany# Laid Off% of WorkforceAs of
#1Google12,0006%Jan 2023
#2Meta11,00013%Nov 2021
#3Amazon10,0003%Nov 2021
#4Microsoft10,0005%Jan 2023
#5Salesforce8,00010%Jan 2023
#6Amazon8,0002%Jan 2023
#7Uber6,70024%May 2020
#8Cisco4,1005%Nov 2021
#9IBM3,9002%Jan 2023
#10Twitter3,70050%Nov 2021
#11Better.com3,00033%Mar 2022
#12Groupon2,80044%Apr 2020
#13Peloton2,80020%Feb 2022
#14Carvana2,50012%May 2022
#15Katerra2,434100%Jun 2021
#16Zillow2,00025%Nov 2021
#17PayPal2,0007%Jan 2023
#18Airbnb1,90025%May 2020
#19Instacart1,877--Jan 2021
#20Wayfair1,75010%Jan 2023

Layoffs were high in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the global economy and forcing staff reductions worldwide. After that, things were steady until the economic uncertainty of last year, which ultimately led to large-scale layoffs in tech—with many of the biggest cuts happening in the past three months.

The Cause of Layoffs

Most workforce slashings are being blamed on the impending recession. Companies are claiming they are forced to cut down the excess of the hiring boom that followed the pandemic.

Additionally, during this hiring craze competition was fierce, resulting in higher salaries for workers, which is now translating in an increased need to trim the fat thanks to the current economic conditions.

layoffs in the tech sector

Of course, the factors leading up to these recent layoffs are more nuanced than simple over-hiring plus recession narrative. In truth, there appears to be a culture shift occurring at many of America’s tech companies. As Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary from Recode have astutely pointed out, tech giants really want you to know they’re behaving like scrappy startups again.

Twitter’s highly publicized headcount reduction in late 2022 occurred for reasons beyond just macroeconomic factors. Elon Musk’s goal of doing more with a smaller team seemed to resonate with other founders and executives in Silicon Valley, providing an opening for others in tech space to cut down on labor costs as well. In just one example, Mark Zuckerberg hailed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for Meta.

Meanwhile, over at Google, 12,000 jobs were put on the chopping block as the company repositions itself to win the AI race. In the words of Google’s own CEO:

“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today… We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.”– Sundar Pichai

The Bigger Picture in the U.S. Job Market

Beyond the tech sector, job openings continue to rise. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a total of 11 million job openings across the U.S., an increase of almost 7% month-over-month. This means that for every unemployed worker in America right now there are 1.9 job openings available.

Additionally, hiring increased significantly in January, with employers adding 517,000 jobs. While the BLS did report a decrease in openings in information-based industries, openings are increasing rapidly especially in the food services, retail trade, and construction industries.

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