August Job Cuts Down 60% From July

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The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas has released its job cuts report for August, indicating that layoffs declined by more than 60% after reaching a new four-year high in July. The job cuts in July were due to huge cuts in military staffing.

Announced August layoffs totaled 41,186, down from 105,696 in July, the highest total since announced cuts of 115,730 in September of 2011.

For the first eight months of 2015, employers have announced job cuts totaling 434,554, up 31% compared with the same period last year. Total cuts for 2015 are on track to surpass 650,000, which would be the highest yearly total since 2009 when nearly double that number lost their jobs.

The retail sector cut 9,601 jobs in August, including 8,500 workers who lost their jobs following the bankruptcy filing by A&P supermarkets.

Layoffs in the industrial sector totaled 7,949 in August, of which about 22% were related to the drop in oil prices. Challenger attributed 3,808 lost jobs in the month to low oil prices. Since January, oil prices take the blame for 82,268 layoffs, mostly in the energy sector, but with ripples through the industrial goods manufacturers that supply equipment and materials for oil exploration and extraction.

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Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said:

The stream of job cuts related to oil prices appears to be ebbing. The majority of these cuts came in the first four months of 2015, when we saw more than 68,000 layoffs related to oil. Since May, fewer than 14,000 job cuts have been attributed to oil prices. It is too soon to say if we have seen the last of the big oil cuts.

As we head into the final months of 2015, there are definitely some red flags that suggest we may see more layoffs from the energy sector, as well as in other areas of the economy. The problems that China is facing could send shockwaves throughout the global economy, including the United States.

The last quarter of the year is also when we tend to see companies make workforce and operational adjustments in order to meet year-end earnings goals.

On the brighter side, announced hiring plans for the first eight months of 2015 total nearly 91,000, with more than 14,000 new jobs in both the automotive industry and retail industry, and nearly 14,000 new jobs in the telecom industry.

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