The Economy

U.S. Job Cuts Hit 14-Month Low in November

While layoffs for the year are on pace to be the highest since 2009, that is due to a "handful of industries" including oil.
Matthew HellerDecember 7, 2015

In another sign of a strengthening labor market, planned layoffs in November fell to the lowest level in more than a year, according to a new report.

The global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers reported workforce reductions totaling 30,953 in November, 39% fewer than in October and down 14% on the year-ago period.

It was the lowest number of job cuts since 30,477 planned cuts were announced in September 2014. The 14-month low comes on the heels of a four-month period during which 256,263 job cuts were recorded.

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“The fourth quarter tends to experience heavier cuts, as employers make year-end adjustments to workforce levels in order achieve earnings goals,” John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a news release. “The November decline could be the quiet before a December storm or it could signal a lower-than-expected downsizing to close out the year.”

“If recent history is any indication, it could be the latter, as December job cuts have been lower than the annual average since the end of the recession,” he added.

To date, employers have announced 574,888 job cuts in 2015, up 28% on the year-ago period. With just one month left in the year, job cuts are on pace to be the heaviest since 2009, when 1,272,030 layoffs were tabulated.

But Challenger noted that the increase in job cuts is due to a “handful of industries.”

“In fact, of the 28 sectors we track, more than half have experienced a year-over-year decline in job cuts,” he said.  “Unfortunately, five sectors have seen job cuts more than double. Job cuts in the energy sector have increased a staggering 708 percent from a year ago.”

Oil-related job cuts in November totaled 1,355, the lowest since June. Industrial goods ranked as the top job-cutting industry last month, with firms in the sector announcing 7,398 planned layoffs, up 109% on October.