2017 March Job Cut Report: Cuts Rise 17 Percent on Telecom, Retail

Job cuts announced by US-based employers rose 17 percent from the February total of 36,957 to 43,310 in March, according to the latest report on monthly job cuts released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

March announcements are 2 percent lower than the same month last year, when employers announced plans to eliminate 44,207 jobs from their ranks. Last month’s total is the third consecutive month of lower job cuts than the corresponding month a year earlier.

So far this year, employers have announced 126,201 job cuts. Last quarter’s total was 38 percent higher than the 91,303 cuts announced in the fourth quarter of 2016, and 30 percent lower than the same period last year when 180,920 cuts were announced.

“Cuts in the energy sector, which started en masse in mid-2014, were still occurring in the first quarter of 2016. The energy industry is no longer bleeding jobs, which is partly why job cut announcements have trended down,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Through the first quarter of the year, the energy sector has announced 7,880 job cuts, 84 percent lower than the 48,901 cuts announced in the first quarter of last year. Since January 2014, the energy sector has announced 224,265 cuts, with 107,714 occurring in 2016.

Retail leads all sectors this year with 38,464 announced cuts, 4,084 of which occurred last month. While retailers have cut over 53,000 jobs in the last seven months, the industry has announced over 121,000 new jobs so far this year.

“Retail is typically an industry in flux, but we’ve seen long established companies close stores and cut workers. The industry, though, is creating openings just as quickly as they are cutting,” said Challenger.

First quarter retail cuts are 19 percent higher than the 31,832 cuts announced in the same period last year.

Telecommunications companies follow retailers with 9,782 job cuts through March, 184 percent more than the 3,439 job cuts announced through Q1 2016.

“Telecommunications providers, like other tech companies, are undergoing restructuring, losing jobs to automation, and pivoting to new projects,” said Challenger.

Companies in the healthcare space announced 8,116 job cuts last quarter, 3,935 of which occurred in March. Healthcare announced 50 percent more layoffs in March than the 1,931 announced in February.

Hiring announcements continue to break records according to Challenger tracking. For the quarter, companies announced 289,272 new positions, the bulk of which were announced by retailers. Home Depot announced 80,000 new seasonal jobs in March. Last quarter’s total is the highest first quarter total on record, and the highest quarterly total except for third quarter totals when holiday hiring plans are typically announced.