On July 8, Deutsche Bank began laying off 18,000 workers across its international offices as it retreats from the equities business, reducing the size of its workforce by roughly a fifth. The layoffs, which are expected to be concentrated in New York and London, are striking in scope. But the German bank is by no means an outlier.
It’s fairly standard for large corporations to axe tens of thousands of workers at a time, especially in the United States. Even in the context of a tight American labor market and a historic economic expansion , major US-based organizations have continued to make sweeping job cuts . Last year alone, Verizon Wireless laid off 44,000 workers, while Toys R Us shed 30,000. Wells Fargo let go of 26,500 over the course of three years, and General Motors laid off 14,700 .
Mass layoffs like these tend to disappear fairly quickly from the mainstream news cycle, grabbing headlines for just a few days. And even then, as with Deutsche Bank, the layoffs are often discussed more as an indicator of a company’s struggles and strategic turns than as a life-changing disaster for huge numbers of human beings.