Layoffs Drop to 14-Month Low

2015 job cuts on track to hit six-year high

By Roy Maurer Dec 7, 2015

U.S. employers announced 30,953 layoffs in November, a 39 percent drop from the previous month and the lowest level in more than a year, according to a report by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

November’s cuts represent the smallest job-cut monthly total since 30,477 planned cuts were announced in September 2014. The low follows a four-month stretch in which more than a quarter of a million (256,263) layoffs were announced by U.S.-based companies.

“Combine this decline with the near-record-high job openings and strong employment demand across a wide range of sectors, and we’re seeing a much healthier labor market as we head into 2016 than we’ve seen in a long time,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist for job search engine Indeed.

“This is reasonably positive news,” said Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at the Society for Human Resource Management. “Our Leading Indicators of National Employment findings for December also show year-over-year increases in employment expectations for services, but they are down for manufacturing.

“It’s a mixed picture—hiring appears to be robust in many service-sector industries, but in manufacturing it is not looking as good.”

Even though there are fewer workforce reductions, the year-to-date total of 574,888 layoffs is on pace to set 2015 up to be the worst year for job cuts since 2009, when over 1 million job cuts were recorded.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger attributed the jump in job cuts this year to large increases in a few industries such as energy, government and industrial goods. Most of the sectors his company tracks have actually experienced a year-over-year decline in job cuts, he said.

The most layoffs in November were announced in the industrial goods industry, with firms in the sector announcing 7,398 cuts. That’s up 109 percent from the 3,390 job cuts announced in this sector in October. For the year, industrial goods companies have announced 54,845 job cuts, ranking behind energy (92,727), government (70,029) and retail (65,609).

Oil-related layoffs were a dominant factor in the energy sector’s 708 percent increase in job cuts year-over-year, Challenger said. But they accounted for just 1,355 cuts in November, the fewest since June (278).

Texas saw the most job cuts this year through November (105,802), followed by California (71,866), Washington, D.C. (58,325), Illinois (32,316) and New York (30,244).

“There has been a lot of turnover this year, but it’s important to note that compared to 2009 when we had the lowest number of job openings on record, in 2015 we’ve had the highest number of job openings on record,” Sinclair said. “Layoffs are always painful for individuals and communities, but there are many more opportunities for people to find new positions this year than in 2009, which is some comfort.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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