Layoffs Decline by One-Third in May

Dismissals in the energy sector ease up; financial services hit the hardest

By Roy Maurer June 11, 2015

U.S.-based layoffs fell sharply by 33 percent in May 2015, dropping from a three-year high in April down to 41,034, according to global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Employers announced 61,582 planned job cuts in April, which was the highest monthly total since 61,887 layoffs were recorded in May 2012.

Companies have announced 242,830 job cuts since Jan. 1, 2015, a 13 percent increase from the 214,600 cuts announced in the first five months of 2014.

Layoffs in the energy sector however, appear to be ebbing, according to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The 1,000 planned layoffs in May attributed to the drop in oil prices is a far cry from April’s 20,675 cuts in energy-related industries. “Unless there is another severe drop in the price of oil, we probably will not see another surge in oil-related job cuts this year,” he said.

The financial sector weathered the heaviest planned downsizing in May with 5,539 workers affected. The bulk of these cuts came from JPMorgan Chase, which announced that the number of tellers working in its branches will shrink by 5,000 over the next 18 months.

The public sector announced 5,539 layoffs in May. Most of these originated from the state of Massachusetts, which announced plans to trim its payroll by 4,500 workers in an effort to close a $1.8 billion budget gap. “At least 16 states, including Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington are expected to experience budget shortfalls over the next year or two,” said Challenger. “We could definitely see an upswing in state layoffs over the next few months, if more of these financially troubled state governments follow in Massachusetts’ footsteps.”

Texas has seen the most job cuts this year through May (73,126), followed by New York (23,660), California (20,666), Pennsylvania (10,901) and New Jersey (10,339).

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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