Human Capital & Careers

U.S. Job Cuts Show First Increase Since March

While there was a 19.4% gain in announced layoffs last month, job cuts are still down 26.1% so far this year.
Matthew HellerAugust 31, 2017

Amid continued downsizing in the retail sector, layoffs announced by U.S.-based employers rose in August, the first monthly gain since March.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers announced 33,825 job cuts this month, 19.4% more than in July and 5% more than in July 2016.

Job cuts had declined each month of this year following the 43,310 payroll cuts in March. The July total of 28,307 layoffs was the lowest since November 2016.

So far this year, employers have announced 289,132 planned job cuts, down 26.1% from the 391,288 cuts announced through the first eight months of 2016.

“Although job cuts have risen this month, they continue to be significantly lower compared to the same time last year,” John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a news release.

The August gain reflected continued attrition in retail amid a wave of store closings and bankruptcies. Retail leads all sectors with 67,596 announced cuts so far this year, 3,607 of which were in August.

Retail job cuts are 51.4% higher this year than through the same point last year, when 44,643 retail cuts were announced.

But Challenger noted that “there has also been increased hiring in new areas of the sector as retailers build out their e-commerce platforms. Shipping and technology jobs are expanding and going unfilled. We are seeing a labor market in which skilled technical and logistics/supply chain talent is in high demand.”

The construction industry announced the highest number of job cuts in August, with 4,332, while companies in the financial sector and services industry cut 3,414 jobs and 3,039 cuts, respectively.

“Retail is pivoting, and with the holiday rush just around the corner, a big jump in seasonal jobs is imminent,” Challenger said. “An increasing number of these jobs will involve new technologies and be more customer-centric, as brick-and-mortar retailers seek to create experiences that consumers cannot find online.”