Job Cuts Down 40 Percent Year-over-Year

By Roy Maurer Mar 14, 2017
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Planned layoffs from U.S. employers have fallen 40 percent from this time one year ago, reported outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

Organizations announced 36,957 job cuts in February, a 19 percent decline from the previous month and a steep drop from February 2016, when employers cut 61,599 jobs.

Employers have announced 82,891 job cuts so far this year, again a 40 percent decline from the 136,713 job cuts announced through February of last year.

The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs during the month of February, according to the March 10 labor market report from the Department of Labor. And hiring announcements are at an all-time high, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In the first two months of the year, employers have announced plans to hire 162,266 workers, the bulk of which came from Amazon's January announcement that it would be hiring 100,000 workers.

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Retail in the Midst of Change

For the second month in a row, retail employers announced the most layoffs of any sector as the industry shifts to an online presence and shutters brick-and-mortar locations. Retailers announced 11,889 job cuts in February for a two-month total of 34,380.

"Retailers are experiencing a tremendous transformation from the traditional business model," said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "The cost of digitizing merchandise, moving sales to online and downsizing physical stores will likely take a toll on employees in this field."

JC Penney made the largest layoff announcement last month, saying it will close 140 stores and cut 5,500 jobs.

The industry with the next highest cuts—the energy sector—has recorded 5,930 layoffs so far in 2017, an 87 percent decline year-over-year. "It seems the bleeding has stopped for now," Challenger said. "The new administration and EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] Chief Scott Pruitt have already enacted legislation to aid oil and gas companies, but it remains to be seen if those actions will result in more jobs."

Following cuts in retail and energy, companies in the health care (4,181), computer (4,177) and automotive (4,008) sectors rounded out the top five industries experiencing layoffs.

Ohio has seen the most job cuts so far this year (17,710), followed by Texas (13,124), California (10,395), Pennsylvania (4,632) and Michigan (4,151).

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