HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

Why are highly skilled professions seeing the most sackings?

By Jack Campbell | |4 minute read
Why Are Highly Skilled Professions Seeing The Most Sackings

New data has revealed that professions with highly specialised skill sets are seeing the largest proportion of sackings. What’s driving this trend?


It appears nobody is safe from job loss, with professional and business services (PBS) employees seeing sackings more than double that of any other industry, according to research from TollFreeForwarding.com.

Around 4.6 million people in PBS industries lost their jobs in 2023. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, this includes highly skilled workers in business infrastructure and support roles, including accountants, architects, advertisers, lawyers, financial managers, consultants, and more.

To put this in perspective, the industries that saw the most terminations in 2023 were:

  1. Professional and business services (4,662,000 total)
  2. Construction (2,075,000 total)
  3. Accommodation and food services (1,954,000 total)
  4. Retail trade (1,874,000 total)
  5. Healthcare and social assistance (1,731,000 total)
  6. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (1,375,000 total)
  7. Arts, entertainment, and recreation (844,000 total)
  8. Durable goods manufacturing (786,000 total)
  9. Nondurable goods manufacturing (696,000 total)
  10. Wholesale trade (575,000 total)

So, why are PBS workers losing jobs at such high rates? According to the study, these trends are a rollover effect of the pandemic, where excess hiring has caused many to downsize teams, with many PBS roles being hit hardest. While this data is specific to the US, similar trends are recognised globally.

There are a variety of parts at play that influence the letting go of an employee. While some may simply be due to the infeasibility of keeping them around, taking form in redundancies, other reasons are more deliberate.

According to a report, a survey of 800 managers revealed the top five reasons for sacking an employee were:

  1. Attitude issues (57 per cent)
  2. Personality issues (41 per cent)
  3. Job performance (40 per cent)
  4. Violation of company policies (31 per cent)
  5. Requested a raise (23 per cent)
  6. Theft (20 per cent)
  7. Being late (18 per cent)

On the flip side, employees were asked what they believed was the reason for them being fired. The responses differed:

  1. Personality conflicts (30 per cent)
  2. Boss was a jerk (23 per cent)
  3. Office politics (19 per cent)
  4. Poor performance (18 per cent)
  5. Budget issues (15 per cent)
  6. Late for work (15 per cent)
  7. Not liked by management (12 per cent)
  8. Underqualified for the job (7 per cent)



When a company can no longer support a certain job within the organisation, it redundancies that employee.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.