AI won’t bring enough jobs back

Layoffs largely defined the tech industry in 2023 as brutal cuts meant thousands of San Francisco residents lost their jobs. As the year went on, however, economists predicted the tide was turning, citing positive job numbers and the growth of the AI industry as evidence that the economy had passed an inflection point.

But—as it turns out—that optimism was premature.

According to the state Employment Development Department’s latest revised reports, San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 16,700 jobs overall between February 2023 and February 2024, with 14,300 jobs lost in the information sector, which includes tech.

EDD’s monthly job statistics usually change after initial reporting as more employers and households respond to surveys, according to a department spokesperson. State officials had originally charted a slowdown of the decade-long run of pre-pandemic job growth. Instead, revised data highlighted a drop in total jobs, a signal of a continuing downturn rather than an economic “soft landing.”

“Tech is actually much worse than it was listed before,” said Ted Egan, the city’s chief economist. “Based on old data, you could say that layoffs were moderating, but there’s no sign of it recovering at this point.”

Although many have put their hopes in AI as the solution to the downward trajectory, experts are skeptical of the industry’s ability to bring back enough jobs by itself.

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