2019 Job Losses at 4-Year High as Tech, Retail Chop More Workers 

Paul Ausick

Outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday released its job-cuts report for October, showing that a total of 50,275 planned U.S. job cuts were announced in the month, an increase of 21% compared with announced September cuts. However, compared with cuts announced in October 2018, this year’s total is 33.5% lower and marks two consecutive months in which the totals were lower than the year-ago month. Monthly totals were higher in the other eight months of this year.

October’s total reduced the year-over-year increase in job cuts from 27.9% in September to 16.6%. Employers announced 441,702 job cuts in the first 10 months of 2018, compared with 515,441 so far in 2019. Year to date, the cuts are the highest since 543,935 job losses were announced in 2015. These are the cities losing the most jobs.

HP’s announced 9,000 job cuts in early October pushed total technology sector job cuts to a monthly total of 15,898, the most of any sector. Retailers announced 6,127 cuts, and health care losses totaled 5,400.

For the year to date, the hardest hit sector on a percentage basis is mining, where job cuts of 5,829 are more than 1,000% higher than in 2018. The warehousing sector has lost about 960% more jobs this year than last (9,377 to 883), and the government sector has announced cuts totaling 12,444, up nearly 400% year over year.

Andrew Challenger, vice-president of the outplacement firm, said, “For the most part, job cut announcements are holding steady as we enter the final quarter of the year. We’ve seen increases in certain industries, particularly those experiencing disruptions from new technologies, uncertainty from government regulation or issues with trade, or slumping from demand shifts.”

Companies have announced plans to hire 431,781 seasonal workers, not including Amazon, which last year hired 100,000 seasonal workers. Including those temporary positions, in the first 10 months of the year, employers have announced plans to hire 1.16 million new workers, about 14% more new jobs than were announced in all of 2018.

Job losses for the year to date in the automotive sector total 43,025, a year-over-year increase of nearly 200%. In the industrial goods sector that includes manufacturing workers, job losses total 63,505 so far this year, up by more than 180% compared with losses in the first 10 months of 2018.

For the year to date, California (92,028), New York (55,575) and Massachusetts (35,843) have lost the most jobs.

The top three reasons given for job cuts this year are restructuring (121,439 cuts), the business is closing (110,969) and bankruptcy (54,366). Companies did not provide a reason for more than 62,000 lost jobs.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to report that U.S. employers added 90,000 jobs in October, a decrease of 34% compared with 136,000 jobs added in September. ADP reported Wednesday that the U.S. economy added 125,000 jobs in October, well above a revised total of 93,000 reported new jobs in September.