employment

U.S.-based employers last year cut the fewest amount of jobs since 1997, according to a report released Thursday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the global outplacement consulting firm.

Job cuts declined for a second consecutive month in December 2014, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to reduce payrolls by 32,640, according to the report. Overall, employers announced job cuts totaling 483,171 in 2014, a 5% decrease from 509,051 job cuts in 2013. It was also the lowest annual total since 434,350 job cuts were recorded in 1997.

“Layoffs aren’t simply at pre-recession levels; they are at pre-2001-recession levels,” John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in the report.
 “This bodes well for job seekers, who will not only find more employment opportunities in 2015, but will enjoy increased job security once they are in those new positions.”

The top job-cutting sector in 2014 was the computer industry, with a total of 59,528 planned layoffs, up 69% from the prior year, according to the report. The retail sector ranked second with 43,783 layoffs announced during the year, though its job cuts declined by 11% in 2014. The third-ranked health care sector also saw fewer layoffs last year, going from 52,637 job cuts in 2013 to a 2014 total of 38,359.

Overall, 16 of the 28 industries tracked by Challenger saw fewer layoffs in 2014, with an average decline of 34%. The insurance industry experienced the biggest decline, with job cuts falling 65% from 6,519 in 2013 to 2,259 last year.

In a Wall Street Journal blog post Thursday, Brian Hershberg said there are “some big questions to be answered” about job cuts for 2015: “What will happen to jobs in the oil patch if energy prices stay low? Will the rapidly changing tech sector force longer-established players to continue retrenching?”

Hershberg continued, “Ultimately, economists and observers like Challenger suggest the benefit of cheaper oil and continued labor-market strength should mitigate the impact of any layoffs that may come in line with recent trends. In fact, Challenger thinks the sky is the limit.”

Featured image: Thinkstock

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