Ad business cut 2,500 jobs in November amid media layoffs

Ad employment slipped in November following a strong gain in October. Overall U.S. employment kept growing last month despite stresses in the economy.

Ad business cut 2,500 jobs in November amid media layoffs

Advertising, PR and related services

U.S. employment in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classification of advertising, public relations and related services came in at 490,600 jobs in November based on figures that are not seasonally adjusted. 

The ad market lost 2,500 jobs in November following an increase of 5,400 jobs in October.

The employment decline last month came amid reports of staff cuts at media ventures ranging from Meta Platforms and Twitter to Warner Bros. Discovery’s CNN, AMC Networks and Gannett Co. 

AMC, which operates cable TV channels and the AMC+ streaming service, in late November implemented a restructuring plan “designed to achieve significant cost reductions, in light of ‘cord cutting’ and the related impacts being felt across the media industry as well as the broader economic outlook.”

BLS downwardly revised the October figure from a preliminary gain of 6,200 jobs it reported a month ago.

This BLS jobs bucket includes ad agencies, PR agencies and related services such as media buying, media reps, outdoor advertising, direct mail and other services related to advertising. Ad agencies account for the biggest portion—about 46%—of those jobs.

Ad agencies

U.S. ad agency employment in October rose to 226,200 jobs, scoring an all-time high despite the stresses in the economy and the media business and indications of tightening budgets at some marketers.

Ad agencies added 2,500 jobs in October after gaining 500 jobs in September based on figures that are not seasonally adjusted. 

BLS upwardly revised the September figure from a preliminary gain of 400 jobs it reported a month ago.

BLS reports ad agency employment on a one-month lag, so November figures aren’t yet available.

But November’s drop in ad, PR and related services staffing implies a decrease in ad agency employment last month.

Internet media

U.S. internet media employment rose to 362,900 jobs in October from 360,200 jobs in September.

Internet media employment—the BLS classification of “internet publishing and broadcasting and web search portals”—rebounded by 2,700 jobs in October after falling by 3,200 jobs in September based on figures that are not seasonally adjusted.

September marked the first monthly decline in internet media employment in 2022.

The upturn in digital media employment in October came despite cascading headlines about staff reductions or a freeze in hiring at a range of internet and media companies.

As with ad agencies, internet media staffing is reported with a one-month delay and is not seasonally adjusted.

Unemployment rate

The U.S. unemployment rate, based on a separate survey of households, came in at 3.7% in November, unchanged from October.

The jobless rate in September was 3.5%, a level tied for the lowest monthly unemployment rate since 1969. Amid signs of a slowing economy, that likely will be this business cycle’s unemployment rate nadir.

U.S. employment

The nation in November added 263,000 jobs based on seasonally adjusted figures.

The economy added 284,000 jobs in October (upwardly revised from 261,000 jobs) and 269,000 jobs in September (downwardly revised from 315,000 jobs).

Employment has grown steadily in the past four months despite economic headwinds—high inflation, rising interest rates, a slumping housing market—and worries about a looming recession.

Following an unprecedented loss of 20.5 million jobs in April 2020 as the nation locked down in the coronavirus pandemic, the economy has added jobs every month except for December 2020.

Total U.S. employment (153.5 million jobs in November) has recovered all of its pandemic losses, topping its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak (152.5 million) to reach a new all-time high.

The World Health Organization classified COVID-19 as a pandemic in March 2020.

Ad Age Datacenter subscribers can see an expanded table showing advertising employment back to 2000 at