The nation’s 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, according to the latest layoff report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

October job cuts were 14 percent lower than the 58,877 cuts announced in September. They were down 1.3 percent from a year ago, when 51,183 October job cuts were recorded.

Employers have now announced 543,935 job cuts so far in 2015. That is 31 percent more than the 414,591 cuts announced by this point in 2014. The year-to-date total is, in fact, 13 percent 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 percent 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.

Overall, oil prices are responsible for 101,383 job cuts in 2015. Several companies have experienced multiple workforce reductions throughout the year. For example, Chevron announced a second round of cuts in October, while Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes have each reported at least two separate layoff events in 2015. 

Due to the resurgence in oil-related job cuts, the energy sector saw the highest number of planned layoffs last month, with 17,344. That is more than triple the second-ranked retail sector, which announced 5,153 job cuts in October.

Not surprisingly, the energy sector is the top job-cutting industry for the year, having announced a total of 90,052 job cuts to date. That is up 766 percent from a year ago, when employers in this sector announced just 10,402 job cuts through October.

Energy is not the only sector to see a significant increase in job cuts this year. Large-scale cut backs in the military earlier in the 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 percent 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 percent from 38,948 in 2014 to 64,983, as of last month.

“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, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“And, while job cuts are up in the retail and computer sectors, these are not necessarily an indication of an economy in decline. 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,” he added.

“Now, we are 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,” said Challenger.

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