June Job Cuts Fall 19%, Lowest Monthly Total of Year, Says Challenger Gray

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Employers announced plans to trim payrolls by 31,105 jobs in June, the lowest monthly total of the year, according to a report released Thursday by Chicago-based global outplacement consultancy Challenger Gray & Christmas.

The June job-reduction total is 19.3% lower than the same month last year, when 38,536 cuts were recorded.

The pace of job cutting is slower compared with the first half of 2016. Through the first six months of this year, employers announced 227,000 planned job reductions, down 28% from the 313,754 cuts announced through the first half of 2016.

“In a tight labor market, it’s no surprise companies are holding on to their existing work forces,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger Gray, in a statement. “Companies are also waiting to see how proposed regulations from the Trump administration may impact business going forward.’’

Job cuts in the second quarter fell 24% to 100,799, compared with the 132,834 announced reductions in the second period of 2016.

“It is typical to see fewer announced job cuts in the summer months. We have not seen large-scale layoffs this year, as we did in the last two years, especially in the tech and energy sectors,” said Challenger.

The technology area is not seeing the same scale of layoffs in 2017 as it did a year ago. Computer, electronics and telecommunications businesses announced 50,161 job cuts through June 2016, according to Challenger Gray, 52.5% more than the 23,813 tech-sector job cuts so far this year.

Retail is another story. Through June, retailers have announced 60,127 job reductions, 42% more than the 42,095 cuts the sector announced through the first half of 2016. It is the highest first-half total for retail since 2009, when retailers announced 85,698 cuts, as the recession was nearing its end.

Even so, CEO Challenger did not believe the pace of retail layoffs matched the level of more recent retail layoff waves. “We are not yet seeing them (layoffs) at the level they were immediately after and during the recession or in 2003, when online shopping really began to catch on,” said Challenger.

Challenger Gray has not tracked any job cuts because of a downturn in oil prices so far in 2017. Through this point last year, oil prices were blamed for 71,075 announced job cuts.