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U.S. 2018 Job Cut Announcements Up 28.6%, Most Since 2015 — Challenger Gray

Job cuts announced by U.S. employers last year rose to their highest level since 2015, outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. said Thursday, with the retail sector posting the biggest job losses.

Challenger said employers last year announced 538,659 job cuts in 2018, up 28.6% from 418,770 in 2017 and the highest annual total since 2015, when 598,510 cuts were tallied.

The firm said retailers accounted for 18.3% of last year’s job cuts as they continued to close stores. Challenger said retailers announced 98,563 job cuts in 2018, a 29.5% increase from 2017, including 30,000 job losses from the demise of Toys “R” Us Inc. and more than 10,000 cuts at Sears Holdings Corp.’s (SHLDQ) Sears and Kmart stores.

“We’ve seen a number of companies responding to changing consumer behavior this year, and with tax savings and a strong economy, making staffing decisions ahead of a potential downturn next year,” Challenger said of 2018’s job cuts.

For the month of December, Challenger said employers announced plans to cut 43,884 jobs, up 35.3% from the 32,423 cuts announced in the same month last year, but down 17.3% from the 53,073 cuts announced in November.

Challenger said less than 1,000 job cuts announced last year were specifically due to tariffs enacted by the Trump administration, but it warned that could change this year.

“It remains to be seen, especially as new trade deals continue to be negotiated and tariffs are lifted or further enforced, what the impact on job cuts will be. The large-scale job cut announcements due to these tariffs have yet to be announced, it seems,” Challenger said.
Source: Dow Jones

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