There were 32,843 corporate layoffs announced in America in December, according to new data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That was a 26 percent decrease from November and the lowest monthly total since July 2018. However, for the full year 2019 large employers cut 592,556 jobs, a 10 percent increase from 2018 and the 4th-highest annual total of the past decade. Retail has been responsible for the bulk of the recent uptick in layoff announcements as brick-and-mortars in this sector continue to struggle with intensifying competition from online merchants (Amazon).
A close second in 2019 for total job cuts was the industrial goods manufacturing arena, which announced 70,894 layoffs during the past twelve months. That was a 156 percent jump from 2018 and the highest annual total for this sector since 2009, although likely a transitory setback related to heightened trade tensions that could reverse, especially if global economic activity continues to stabilize. The report’s authors added that “Confidence was high heading into the last month of the year. With some resolutions occurring in the trade war and strong consumer spending in the fourth quarter, companies appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach as we head into 2020.” More importantly, initial jobless claims remain near the low-end of the historic range, consistent with employers being reluctant to let go of talent in the tight labor market.
Sources: Econoday, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. DoL, FRBSL