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U.S.-based employers announced workforce reductions totaling 50,579 in February 2015, five percent fewer than the 53,041 in January, according to the monthly job cuts report released by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
The February total is up 21 percent year-over-year and marked the third month in a row that total job cuts have risen compared to the same period a year ago.
Employers announced 103,620 planned layoffs through the first two months of 2015, which is up 19 percent from the 86,942 job cuts recorded during the same period in 2014.
The energy sector experienced the heaviest job losses in February (16,339), due primarily to falling oil prices. Layoffs due to the oil price crash are responsible for 36 percent of all job cuts for the month, according to experts.
“Oil exploration and extraction companies, as well as the companies that supply them, are definitely feeling the impact of the lowest oil prices since 2009,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “These companies, while reluctant to completely shutter operations, are being forced to trim payrolls to contain costs,” he said.
Challenger explained that while oil-related companies will continue to see profits slide, the net impact of falling prices will likely be positive for the economy as a whole, due to extra consumer spending power and higher profits for oil-consuming companies such as transportation firms, airlines, and manufacturers of plastic and paint products.
The retail sector saw the second highest number of job cuts in February with 9,163. Retailers have announced 15,862 job cuts so far this year, an amount similar to the 15,242 cuts announced in the first two months of 2014.
Retail’s woes are not necessarily the result of falling oil prices, Challenger said: “The fact is, some retailers are beyond the point where cheap oil will help turn things around. For example, the heaviest retail job cuts last month were the result of RadioShack’s long decline, which culminated in bankruptcy and liquidation.”
The financial, industrial goods and computer industries rounded out the top five areas with the most layoffs planned for February. Texas saw the most job cuts this year through February (42,516), followed by California (9,695), New York (6,909), Pennsylvania (3,785) and Florida (3,638).
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him @SHRMRoy
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