Job cuts surged in April due to falling crude oil prices, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ latest report on monthly layoffs released Thursday.
U.S. employers cut 61,582 jobs last month, a 68% surge from March and a 53% rise from April 2014 — and the highest monthly total since May 2012 (61,887) and the highest April total since 2009 (132,590).
Driving the acceleration was the dramatic decline in oil prices, which forced producers and suppliers to cut production. More than a third (34%) of the jobs cut last month were directly attributed to oil prices.
“The jobs that are most vulnerable are those in the field — engineers, oil rig operators, drill operators, refinery operators, etc.,” chief executive John A. Challenger said in a press release. “Managers and executives in the corporate offices are more secure, but the drop in oil prices is leading to increased merger activity, which could put more executives at risk of job loss.”
Since the beginning of the year, employers have announced 201,796 planned job cuts, a 25% increase from the 161,639 layoffs tracked in the first four months of 2014 — and the largest four-month total since 2010. Again, oil prices accounted for roughly 34% of the announced cuts.
The top five industries for planned job cuts year-to-date are energy, 57,556; retail, 26,096; industrial goods, 22,047; health care/products, 9,926; and computer, 9,368.
Despite all the layoffs, the number of Amercians filing for unemployment benefits — 265,000 — was near a 15-year low last week.