November Job Cuts at 7-Month Low

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The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday released its job-cuts report for November, reporting that layoffs in the month rose 17% year over year and 17% month over month.

Last year through November the firm reported 493,288 job cuts. This year’s November total of 35,038 layoffs is the second lowest year-to-date total since November 1997, but the highest monthly total since April. Year-to-date job losses of 386,347 are 22% below last year’s total.

The firm noted that holiday hiring announcements were running slightly behind last year’s total. Companies claim to have added 608,129 seasonal jobs so far this year, down 2% from 620,700 reported last year at this time.

John Challenger, the outplacement firm’s CEO, said:

While job-cut announcements have remained low all year, major M&A activity, such as the CVS/Aetna deal and the possibility of Amazon buying generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, could lead to a spate of large-scale job-cut announcements to open 2018, especially at Pharmaceutical, Retail, and Health Care companies.

Nearly 20% of year-to-date job cuts have come in the retail sector. Retailers have cut 74,665 jobs so far in 2017, up from 57,969 in the first 11 months of last year.

Job losses in the health care/products industry have logged the year-to-date’s second-highest number of job cuts, 38,145, just under half of the retail losses, but more than double the number of jobs lost in the first 11 months of last year. The services industry has lost nearly 33,000 so far in 2017, compared with about 9,600 last year.

For the year to date, California (58,780), Texas (35,408) and New York (25,488) have lost the most jobs.

Job losses in the construction industry total nearly 8,700 this year, compared with about 1,300 to date last year.

Challenger also commented on total hiring announcements, which reached a total of nearly 1.1 million for the first 11 months of 2017:

Employers have reported a lack of skilled workers to fill demand in many industries. In this tight labor market, those with the requisite skills and training have a leg up over the competition.

Opportunities exist for job seekers. It remains to be seen whether the recent tax reform bill will have a significant impact on job growth or announced cuts. It may make it easier for companies to combine, which generally leads to eliminating redundancies.

On Friday the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to report that U.S. employers added 190,000 jobs in November. ADP reported Wednesday that jobs grew by 190,000 last month.