January Layoffs Up 38% Year Over Year, Down 3% Month Over Month

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The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday released its job-cuts report for January, reporting that layoffs in the month fell 2.8% year over year and rose 37.7% month over month. Job losses totaled 44,653 in January compared with 32,423 in December and 45,934 in January 2017.

Job losses totaled 418,770 in 2017, the lowest annual total since 1990, and nearly 21% less than the 526,915 job cuts reported in 2016

Nearly 35% of last month’s job cuts — 15,738 — occurred in the retail sector. That’s 31.6% less than the 22,491 cuts announced for the retail sector in January 2017.

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

Many companies are enjoying relative financial health and a strong economy right now. The good news for those who are finding themselves separated from their previous companies is that employers are scrambling to find talent.

Retail, Consumer Products, and Services are all sectors ripe for automation. This may spell a loss of jobs in the short term, but could create better, higher-paying jobs going forward.

It remains to be seen what impact the passage of tax legislation will have on companies’ staffing plans. We’ve seen a number of companies announce one-time bonuses or a raise to their minimum wages. Other companies are planning new investments, and several have pledged new jobs.

The state losing the most jobs in January was Texas, with losses totaling 8,951. Ohio (7,215 lost jobs) and California (6,579) trailed.

Following retail as the industry losing the most jobs were the automotive (3,365 lost jobs), health care/products (2,250) and computer (2,211) industries.

The primary reason for the job cuts were businesses closing (23,785 jobs lost), cost-cutting (10,660) and restructuring (6,625).

Challenger also noted that January announcements of new hiring totaled 41,890 jobs. Nearly half (20,000) of the new jobs were attributed to Apple’s announcement in mid-January of its hiring plans over the next five years.