U.S. Layoffs Drop to 8-Month Low

Retail announces most job cuts and most jobs created

By Roy Maurer Aug 3, 2017

Planned layoffs from U.S. employers in July fell to the lowest monthly total since November 2016, according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

U.S. companies announced the downsizing of 28,307 positions in July, a 9 percent drop from job cuts recorded in June and 38 percent lower than the same month last year.

July's job cuts were the lowest monthly total since last November, when 26,936 layoffs were announced. Monthly job cut totals have fallen under 30,000 only three times in the last 10 years; those three times occurred in the last three years.

Employers have announced 255,307 job cuts so far in 2017, down 29 percent from the 359,100 cuts planned through the first seven months of 2016.

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Conduct a Layoff or Reduction in Force]

"While we have yet to see the large-scale layoffs of previous years, especially as oil and tech rebound, the specter of a downturn is on the horizon and could spell massive cuts as we head into the fourth quarter and into next year," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas."

Retailers challenged by a seismic consumer shift to online shopping have announced the most job cuts this year—63,989, a tally 47 percent higher than at the same point last year.

However, the retail industry has also led the way in hiring, as the sector ramps up e-commerce. Amazon recently held job fairs across the nation with the goal of hiring 50,000 workers.

"While retailers are cutting the most jobs this year, those companies are also announcing the most hiring," Challenger said. "These jobs are not the typical retail job, as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping. New retail jobs could be going to places like fulfillment and distribution centers, which increasingly need talent, as well as to workers with the tech skills necessary to interact with and manage the automation that's revolutionizing the industry."

After retail, companies in the health care (21,554), services (18,022), automotive (13,521) and food (13,063) industries rounded out the top five sectors experiencing layoffs this year.

California has seen the most job cuts so far this year (36,883), followed by Texas (23,705), Ohio (22,617), Indiana (17,408) and New York (17,196).

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