Energy Layoffs Send Job Cuts Rising to 3-Year High

By Roy Maurer May 14, 2015
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U.S.-based employers announced workforce reductions totaling 61,582 in April 2015, a 68 percent rise in job cuts from 36,594 in March, according to the latest report on monthly layoffs released by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Job cuts in April were 53 percent higher than the same month a year ago, when 40,298 planned job cuts were recorded. It’s the highest monthly total since May 2012 (61,887) and the highest April total since 2009 (132,590).

Employers have announced 201,796 planned job cuts in 2015 thus far, a 25 percent increase from the 161,639 layoffs tracked in the first four months of 2014. The four-month total is the largest since 2010.

One-third of the April layoffs, or 20,675 cuts, were directly attributed to oil prices, according to Challenger. Falling oil prices are also the cause for about one-third (68,285) of the cuts year-to-date.

“The jobs that are most vulnerable are those in the field—engineers, oil rig operators, drill operators, refinery operators, etc.,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Managers and executives in the corporate offices are more secure, but the drop in oil prices is leading to increased merger activity, which could put more executives at risk of job loss.”

The energy sector shed the most jobs in 2015 thus far, with 57,556 planned cuts. That’s more than double the second-ranked retail sector, which announced 26,096 job cuts in 2015.

The pace of retail-sector job cuts is slightly higher than a year ago, when retailers announced 25,224 job cuts through the first four months.

“We could be witnessing the after-effect of the severe and protracted recession,” Challenger said. “Many Americans are still struggling to find work, and those that do are not earning as much as they once did.”

The industrial goods, health care and computer industries rounded out the top five areas with the most layoffs planned for April. Texas saw the most job cuts this year through April (69,803), followed by New York (16,205), California (15,991) Pennsylvania (9,710) and Ohio (9,403).

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

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