Hyderabad: More than 10,000 Telugu professionals in the US are staring at an uncertain future after major companies started the second round of layoffs. The layoffs are affecting professionals, including recently graduated students from both the Telugu states. Their Indian family members residing in Andhra and Telangana are now concerned about their loved ones who lost their jobs.
Facing an uncertain global economy and slowing revenue growth, technology companies have picked up the pace of layoffs in 2023, after sweeping job cuts rocked the industry last year. According to Layoffs.fyi, around 1,59,786 jobs have been cut by tech firms in 2022. And so far, in 2023, an additional 98,100 employees have been laid off by tech firms.
“Despite the Pandemic, technology companies went on a hiring spree in 2020 and 2021. It was fueled by low-interest rates and demand for tech products while people were staying at home. Now that we’re in an opposite environment, these same tech companies are performing layoffs to undo their hiring from the past couple of years, Telugu NRIs tell News Meter.
Telugus form the major chunk of professionals who are being laid off in the US. It includes mostly H1B Visa holders. H1-B visa also called the work visa, where the employer sponsors immigrants to stay in the US.
So why `Telugus’?
Today the magnitude of the Indian diaspora in the U.S. is nearly 3 million strong. Telugus formed the major proportion of Indian software professionals in the US. In 2000, the Telugu population in the U.S. numbered around 87,543. By 2010, the number surged to 222,977 then 415,414 by 2017, and was 644,700 by 2020.
A lot of this can be attributed to the links forged between the city of Hyderabad and the US engineering and technology industries. The rapid growth of information technology in the mid-1990s and the enactment of the Immigration Act of the 1990s led to a US job market open for software engineers. Many were recruited from Hyderabad, the biggest Telugu-speaking city. Both Telugu-speaking states together now have more than 800 engineering colleges.
Vishweshwara, Founder, Global Telangana Association (Network of NRIs) said, “Layoff is a cyclic process in the USA, it happens every 10 years. Post-Covid, there has been an overestimation in the market and companies are now doing course correction. To my knowledge, companies have given pink slips to 10,000 employees in the last 2 months.”
“The US is conservative, the market will hit back. Probably the employees laid off can be called back. Most of the Telugus are not sharing their job loss as it hits their dignity. People only want to share success, not failure. As an organization, we are educating, enlightening, giving a helping hand, and are suggesting other opportunities for Telugus who suffered Layoff.”
Janetha Reddy Kancharla, an Immigration lawyer in the USA, provides consultation as an attorney to individuals. “Most of the Telugus’ who lost jobs are H1B, visa holders. Some Telugus have children who are in the middle of high school. When a company lays off people, they’re given 60 days grace period. This is the time they look out for another job. That grace time is still not over for this year yet. Usually, freshers and those who joined last year are not laid off. Because it’s mostly entry-level jobs. Companies usually lay off experienced people,” she said. There is a hope that they will get a job in a grace period of 60 days. Community people through close aides are helping out each other through referrals on LinkedIn and WhatsApp.
“Till now I haven’t seen the challenge of packing everything and coming back home. Post 2008 recession, where Indians had to leave the USA, Indians in the USA have learnt lessons. Associations have been formed in the name of ‘IT Serve’, monthly meetings are being conducted to provide references for jobs seekers,” said Dr. Krishna Puttaparthi CEO of iAsiaNews in Texas.
“In the worst scenario, Indians who are on H1B Visas, there is an option to approach a lawyer who will look into their financial stability and convert H1B Visa to E5, a Business Visa. For this, half a million dollars should be paid as an application fee.” Dr. Krishna added.
A couple of months into 2023, big tech companies all over the world are laying off their employees. It has to be noted that, these companies are planning to invest in future technologies for which capital is being arranged through the sacked workforce. It is yet to see, how Telugus and their associations would join hands to help each other out.