2015 Midyear Job Cuts Total Highest Since 2010

By Roy Maurer July 7, 2015

Layoffs throughout the first half of 2015 are up 17 percent year-over-year and the midyear total of 287,672 job cuts is the highest since the first six months of 2010, according to a report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Job cuts increased in June 2015, as employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 44,842 workers during the month. That total is about 9.3 percent higher than the 41,034 planned layoffs announced in May 2015 and 43 percent higher than the 31,434 layoffs announced in June 2014. This marks the fifth year-over-year increase in job cuts in the first six months of 2015.

The pace of job-cutting rose between the first and second quarter of the year, according to Challenger data. The second quarter total of 147,458 job cuts represented a 5.0 percent increase from the 140,214 planned layoffs in the first three months of 2015.

The 2015 midyear job cuts total is mostly attributed to restructuring (86,978), followed by the drop in oil prices (69,582) that rippled through the energy and industrial goods sectors.

The energy sector has been hit hardest this year, cutting its workforce by 60,500 between January and June. In comparison, just 3,908 energy-sector workers lost their jobs to downsizing at this point last year.

The retail sector ranked second in layoffs at the midyear mark, with 45,230 planned layoffs to date, up 68 percent from a year ago. Retail was the leading job-cutting sector in June with 17,947 cuts, mostly related to Minnesota-based Target’s closure of all its Canadian stores.

“Not all retail cuts are due to frugal consumers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In Target’s case, the retail chain simply made significant missteps when entering Canada two years ago and never gained traction among Canadian shoppers. The store closures, which resulted in 17,000 job cuts for the American-based employer, were among the first decisions by new CEO Brian Cornell, who is determined to revitalize the store here in America,” he said.

Challenger expects to see the pace of downsizing slow in the final six months of 2015, due to the contributing factors that led to increased cuts in the first half of the year subsiding.

The industrial goods, financial and chemical industries rounded out the top five areas with the most layoffs in the year to date. Texas saw the most job cuts this year through June (73,652), followed by Minnesota (25,616), New York (24,967), California (22,036) and Illinois (11,822).

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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