Job Cuts, Creation Nearly Equal in Labor Reports

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Sep 11, 2014

There were 4.7 million job openings as of July 31, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS’s) Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, released Sept. 9, 2014.

The JOLTS report includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and by four geographic regions. July 2014 hires and separations rates (3.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively) changed little from June. The BLS reported the quits rate at 1.8 percent, and the layoffs and discharges rate at 1.2 percent. Over the 12 months ending in July 2014, hires totaled 56.0 million and separations totaled 53.5 million, yielding a net employment gain of 2.5 million.

Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted temporary help employment was up 0.5 percent over July 2014 and 8.0 percent over August 2013, according to the BLS’s monthly employment situation report released Sept. 5. While the pace of year-to-year growth has moderated from around 9.0 percent at the beginning of this year, the average over the past 12 months remained strong at 8.4 percent.

“Despite some uncertainty in the strength of the economy,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association, “staffing and recruiting firms report that clients are continuing to strategically increase their hiring of permanent and flexible workers.”

Job Openings, Hire Rates

The one-month change in the number of openings for June and July 2014 was not significant in any industry or region of the country, reported the BLS. There were, however, 799,000 more job openings in July than in January 2014.

The number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) increased over the 12 months ending in July 2014 for total nonfarm, total private and government, with job openings increasing in several industries and in all four regions of the country. The largest increases since January were in retail trade, professional and business services, and health care and social assistance.

There were 4.9 million hires in July; however, little changed from June for total private and government in all four U.S. regions. Over the 12 months ending in July, the number of hires (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total nonfarm and total private and was little changed for government. Hiring increased over the year for construction and retail trade but decreased for educational services.

Technology Leads Job Cuts

The BLS reported there were 4.6 million total separations (3.3 percent) in July, which included discharges, quits and layoffs. The number of separations was little changed from June for total nonfarm, total private and government.

However, planned August job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers totaled 40,010—a 15 percent decline from the 46,887 planned layoffs reported in July, according to a report released Sept. 4 by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The August total was 21 percent lower than August 2013, marking just the fourth time this year that the monthly total was lower than the comparable period a year ago.

Job cuts for the year are down slightly from 2013, reports Challenger. As of Aug. 31, planned job cuts totaled 332,931, or 4.0 percent below the cuts announced between January and August of last year.

Top 5 Job-Cutting Industries in August





Industrial Goods


Health Care/Products




Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., September 2014

August job cuts were heaviest in the technology sector. To date, employers in the technology sector--including computer, telecommunications and electronics firms—have announced 80,088 job cuts in 2014. That is 41 percent more than the 56,918 tech-sector job cuts announced in all of 2013.

Electronics firms, such as Cisco Systems, have seen the largest increases in year-over-year job cuts. The 16,406 job cuts announced by these firms to date ranks electronics ninth among all industries, but that total represents a 170 percent increase from the cuts announced during the same period in 2013.

And as evidenced by the recent downsizing initiatives of Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Intel, computer firms have experienced the heaviest downsizing so far this year, announcing a total of 48,928 job cuts to date. That is 87 percent more than the 26,180 job cuts announced by this industry from January through August 2013.

Retailers have experienced the second highest number of job cuts this year, but the industry’s downsizing has slowed from a year ago.

“The majority of industries have seen job cuts decline in 2014,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a Sept. 4 statement. “For many of the industries where job cuts are on the rise, economic weakness is not the driving factor. The cuts we are seeing are coming from companies that did not keep up with the rapidly changing trends that are constantly redefining what products and services are in demand. Now, they are playing catch-up, laying off workers in some areas, hiring in others, and simply cutting layers of management in order to become more nimble and better prepared to meet the next trend shift.”

Overall, the number of layoffs and discharges was little changed in July at 1.7 million, the BLS reported.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/content manager for SHRM.


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