More than 50,000 workers across the U.S. will join the unemployment line ahead of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, but the good news is that employers are cutting fewer positions than a year ago, according to the latest layoff report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
In October, employers announced plans to eliminate 50,504 workers from their payrolls in October. More than one-quarter of those were oil-related job cuts, which climbed to a six-month high. October job cuts were 14% lower than the 58,877 cuts announced in September and down 1.3% from a year ago when 51,183 October job cuts were recorded.
So far in 2015, employers have now announced 543,935 job cuts so far in 2015. That is 31% more than the 414,591 cuts announced by this point in 2014. The year-to-date total is also 13% higher than the 2014 year-end total (483,171).
Nearly one in five job cuts announced this year have been the result of low oil prices. In October, oil prices were blamed for 13,671 job cuts, 27%t of all cuts announced during the month. That is the highest oil-related job-cut total since April, when 20,675 job cuts were attributed to oil.
“Despite the surge in job cuts across several sectors, it is hardly time to panic. While falling oil prices are impacting the bottom lines of companies in the energy and industrial goods sectors, they are helping many other employers, such as those in transportation and plastics manufacturing,” said John A. Challenger, CEO Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Energy is not the only sector to see a significant increase in job cuts this year. Large-scale cut backs in the military earlier this year propelled the government sector to the second spot in the year-to-date job cut rankings. The 69,105 government cuts tracked through October are 226% higher than the 21,200 announced by these employers in 2014.
In the retail sector, which has the third highest year-to-date job-cut total, layoff announcements are up 67% from 38,948 in 2014 to 64,983, as of last month.
“While job cuts are up in the retail and computer sectors, these are not necessarily an indication of an economy in decline,” Challenger said. “Both industries are in a state of flux due to changing consumer and business trends. Many of the cuts we have seen this year in both industries have been the result of companies’ inability to keep up with changes versus an overall decline in demand.”
Challenger added that the U.S. economy is now heading into what has historically been a period of heavy job cutting, even in the strongest economy.
“The fourth quarter is when many companies make adjustments to operations and payrolls in order to hit year-end earnings goals. We could see an increase in layoffs, but we are just as likely to see an increase in hiring, as companies find themselves shorthanded and unable to meet demand,” he said.
To see the complete results of the Challenger’s October job cut report, click here.