Have you ever wondered just how dispensable your job is? Does an advanced degree provide you with better job security? Chances are—no matter how secure you may feel in your current position—you’ve thought about one of these questions before. After all, nearly 20 million people were let go from their jobs last year alone, so the reality of being fired might not be as far away as we all hope.   


While we don’t want to sound dire, layoffs and firings do happen. As such, we wanted to look into the industries where terminations are most common. Here’s what we found: 


Most Terminations by Industry


Industry Terminations in 2023 Termination Rate 
Professional & Business Services 4,662,000 1.7 
Construction 2,075,000 2.2 
Accommodation & Food Services 1,954,000 1.2 
Retail Trade 1,874,000 1 
Healthcare & Social Assistance 1,731,000 0.7 
Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities 1,375,000 1.6 
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 844,000 2.8 
Durable Goods Manufacturing 786,000 0.8 
Nondurable Goods Manufacturing 696,000 1.2 
Wholesale Trade 575,000 0.8 
State and Local Government 466,000 0.4 
Information 390,000 1.1 
Finance and Insurance 333,000 0.4 
Private Educational Services 331,000 0.7 
Real Estate, Rental, and Leasing 266,000 0.9 
Federal Government 86,000 0.2 
Mining & Logging 82,000 1.1 


Professional and Business Services


Over 4.6 million people were let go from jobs in the professional and business services (PBS) industry last year. PBS is a diverse industry that largely consists of highly skilled workers, many of whom have advanced degrees, in business infrastructure and management roles. Jobs that fall under the PBS umbrella include accountants, architects, advertisers, lawyers, financial managers, and business consultants, among many others.  


Many businesses in this sector began mass layoffs and downsizing after pandemic-era excess hiring. This includes mass layoffs from industry leaders, including Amazon, Meta, and Google, all of which let go tens of thousands of workers among their business support staff, including advertising and human resources departments. Several accounting and financial planning institutions also let many workers go last year, including Deloitte, McKinsey, Ernst & Young, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan & Chase.  




The construction industry saw the second-highest number of terminations last year, with more than 2 million workers fired from their jobs in this sector. Jobs in this sector include carpenters, construction laborers, construction managers, electricians, plumbers, and other workers who assist in the construction of buildings or engineering projects. 


The most likely contributor to the high volume of layoffs within the construction industry includes a slowdown in building projects, with construction starts falling 4.9% in 2023. This slowdown can largely be attributed to rising interest rates and high prices for building materials and labor.  


Accommodation and Food Services


The accommodation and food services industry saw the third-highest volume of terminations last year, with nearly 2 million workers in this industry losing their jobs. Jobs in this industry include service workers, cooks, hotel staff, and waiters and waitresses.  


Most Terminations by State 


In addition to the industries with the most terminations, we wanted to know which states had the most people fired. The ten states with the most people fired last year are as follows: 


State Terminations in 2023 Termination Rate 
California 834,000 0.9 
Texas 645,000 0.9 
Florida 566,000 1.2 
New York 379,000 0.8 
Illinois 364,000 1.2 
North Carolina 300,000 1.2 
Georgia 289,000 1.2 
Ohio 287,000 1 
New Jersey 257,000 1.2 
Pennsylvania 257,000 0.8 


Why Do People Get Fired? 


Beyond just how many people are fired each year, we also wanted to find out the most common reasons for people being let go. According to a recent survey of 800 managers, the following are the five most common reasons they have had to fire employees: 


  • Attitude issues – 57% 


  • Personality issues – 41% 


  • Job performance – 40% 


  • Violation of company policies – 31% 


  • Requested a raise – 23% 


What You Need to Know About Getting Fired 


19,759,000 people were fired last year in the United States. While getting let go is not something anyone wants to go through, it does happen to many millions of people every year.  


To help people navigate this difficult situation, we enlisted the help of Bryan Driscoll, a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and career coach, to answer the web’s most searched questions about getting fired. Bryan’s answers to these questions are as follows: 


Can you get unemployment if you get fired? 


Yes, you can often get unemployment benefits after being fired. There are some exceptions, but in most cases, you should be eligible. If you were fired for misconduct or a violation of company policy, your employer may dispute the benefit, but this shouldn’t deter you from applying. 


Can my previous employer disclose why I was fired? 


Legally, yes, in most cases. Most companies, however, limit the information they share to job titles and dates of employment, mainly due to the fear of being sued. 


Does my boss need to tell me why I was fired? 


No. The nature of at-will employment means that you or the company can terminate your employment for any non-discriminatory reason. Some employers will provide a rationale for termination, but many will simply say something like, ‘It’s not working out’ or, ‘Your position has been eliminated.’ If you think discrimination or retaliation might be a reason for your termination, contact an employment attorney right away. 


How should I explain being terminated in a job interview? 


Be honest but strategic. Focus on what you learned from the experience rather than the negative aspects. You could say, ‘The position was not the right fit for me, which became evidence over time, and here’s why… Since then, I’ve focused on improving my skills in X, Y, and Z areas and am looking for an opportunity that better aligns with my strengths.’ This shows self-awareness and a commitment to professional growth. 


What should I do after I’ve been fired? 


Take a moment for yourself. Even if it was a toxic situation, it’s still not easy for you, so give yourself time to process. Then, review your emotional and financial situation. Update your resume and your LinkedIn profile, focusing on your achievements and the positive contributions you made. Reach out to your network for support and potential job leads. Consider this a time for reflection and an opportunity to pursue a role that aligns more closely with your goals and values. 




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