April Job Cuts Fell 40% Year Over Year, but Up 8% for Year to Date

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The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday released its job-cuts report for April showing that a total of 36,081 jobs were cut last month, a drop of 40.2% month over month and the second-lowest total of the year to date. More than 60,000 job cuts were made in March, the highest monthly total since April 2016.

For the first four months of the year, employers have slashed 176,460 jobs, compared to a total of 162,803 in the first four months of last year, an increase of about 8.4%.

Job losses are highest in the retail sector, where 64,370 jobs have been cut so far in 2018. Challenger Gray said it has tracked 2,460 announced retail store closures for the year to date. A total of 9,241 stores closed in 2017.

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

Most of the cuts in March came from a single announcement, but an increase in large-scale job cut announcements could be on the horizon. With rising wages, near full employment, and solid job creation, we may be in for a market correction over the upcoming months.

One bright spot so far this year has been the technology sector, which includes the computer, electronics and telecommunications industries. For 2018 to date, the sector has announced 13,328 job cuts, down nearly 24% year over year. Employers in the tech sector announced a total of 38,508 cuts in 2017, the lowest annual total since 2011, when 37,038 tech sector cuts were announced.

Regarding tech jobs, Challenger added:

The tech industry has seen a number of new disruptive trends over the last year, including blockchain, more advanced artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Companies in this industry are investing in these new technologies and that means creating more jobs.

In the first four months of 2018, companies have announced plans to hire 210,182 workers, compared to a total of 350,809 new hires for the same period last year. For all of 2017, plans were announced to hire just over 1.1 million employees.

In addition to the retail sector, other industries with many more year-over-year first-quarter cuts include consumer products (12,743 versus 1,455 last year), health care products (17,450 versus 11,269) and services (14,665 versus 8,263).

Industries reporting many fewer year-over-year first-quarter cuts include computer (3,004 versus 5,734 last year), energy (2,879 versus 8,339) and telecom (6,254 versus 10,269).

For the year to date, New Jersey (36,906), California (19,413) and Texas (15,358) have lost the most jobs.

The top three reasons given for the 2018 job cuts are the business is closing (62,946 jobs lost), restructuring (54,008) or cutting costs (16,706). Bankruptcy filings have cost 30,060 jobs so far this year, unchanged from the March total.

On Friday the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to report that U.S. employers added 190,000 jobs in April. ADP reported Wednesday that jobs grew by 204,000 last month.

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