American-based companies have announced job cuts of 230,433 through the first four months of 2019, up 31% year over year. However, the cuts slowed in April and dropped 34% compared to March. April cuts totaled 40,023. One of the leading experts in job tracking believes the figures will get better over the next several months.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has tracked monthly job cuts for years. Its take on the job market is sanguine in general. Andrew Challenger, one of the company’s vice presidents, said: “The second quarter averages the fewest cuts of the year, according to our historical tracking. With the favorable jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March, this could signify companies are slowing down plans to cut workers for the spring and summer months.”
Despite the firm’s optimism, job cuts were particularly large in several industries. Challenger described cuts in manufacturing as “troubling.” This is not just because of the size of the cuts. Related industries are often affected by downsizing at their customers and partners.
Retail was hit hardest among all industries, with 48,076 cuts so far this year, though this was down from 64,370 last year. The trend shows how badly retail has been hit over a period that stretches back several years. The demise of companies like Toys “R” Us and Sears recently are only the tip of that iceberg. Challenger said that there were “announced plans to shutter 4,397 stores so far this year.” A number of these cuts were at retailers closing the most stores.
The second largest industry based on total cuts was Industrial Goods at 39,304, which was up from 4,625 in the same period of last year. Automotive industry cuts reached 19,802 through April, up from 6,451 in the same period in 2018.
Challenger also looked at reasons for the job cuts. Companies said “restructuring” accounted for 55,706 jobs this year. Few, if any, of these were among industries that have the best jobs in America.
Total announced job cuts in 2018 were 538,659, according to Challenger. If the 2019 pace does not slow, the number will be worse this year.