76,835 Job Cuts in February, Most in Over 3.5 Years: Retail Leads the Cuts

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Challenger reports a huge jump in layoff announcements. The retail sector is very hard hit.

The Challenger Report shows employers announced 76,835 job cuts in February.

The shortest month of the year saw the highest number of job cuts in over three-and-a-half years, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut 76,835 positions from their payrolls in February. That is 45 percent higher than the 52,988 cuts announced in January, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s job cuts are 117 percent higher than the 35,369 cuts announced in February 2018. It is the highest monthly total since 105,696 cuts were recorded in July 2015, primarily due to the U.S. Army’s cutting over 50,000 jobs and tanking oil prices, causing thousands of cuts in the Energy sector.

“Job cuts have been trending upward since the last half of 2018. We continue to see companies respond to shifting consumer behavior, new technology, as well as trade and market uncertainty through workforce restructuring,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Meanwhile, Retailers are closing or revamping brick-and-mortar locations, leading to job loss or going bankrupt and cutting their entire workforces,” said Challenger.

Retail leads all sectors in job cut announcements with 41,201 this year, 92 percent higher than the 21,484 Retail cuts announced through February last year. It is the highest January-February total since 2009, when Retailers announced 72,727 job cuts in the first two months of the year.

By Sector 2019 vs 2018 - Top 5 Industries

Layoff in retail and industrial production have soared. Health care is one bright spot.

Challenger Cuts By Industry

Job cuts in aerospace, automotive, financial, industrial goods, retail, transportation, and warehousing are all up significantly this year.

There are significant improvements in consumer products, health care, and services.

Layoff Location

The bluest of the blue states got hit the hardest.

Challenger Hiring Plans

There certainly is a lot of month-to-month volatility. September is the crucial month.

Here's a final set of numbers to ponder:

In 2018, the retail year-to-date hiring plans totaled 66,000. This year, the retail year-to-date total is 0.

These are further significant signs of a huge slowdown.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments
No. 1-10
everything
everything

Mixed bag, but retail is definitely re-inventing itself. Warehousing and automation coming on stronger as wages increase. Not much loss really in dumping jobs that do not pay a living wage.

KidHorn
KidHorn

Where I live, several commercial blocks were torn down to make room for a huge FedEx warehouse.

stillCJ
stillCJ

Editor

Seems like online retail purchasing will continue to take a toll on employment in that sector, as well as new store construction.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

The red states wont be able to make up for losses in the blue state. Even the plans for 2019 are way lower than the layoffs. Only a matter of weeks before we see a spike in unemployment.

shamrock
shamrock

Annotate that graph with Trump tariffs on washing machines and solar panels, Trump tariffs on steel and aluminum, and Trump 25% tariffs on China.