PUBLISHED March 3, 2022


U.S.-based employers announced 15,245 cuts in February, a 20% drop from the 19,064 cuts announced in January. Meanwhile, employers in the U.S. announced plans to hire 215,127 workers, the highest February total on record, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., Created in Canva

February’s total is 56% lower than the 34,531 cuts announced in the same month last year. In the first two months of the year, employers announced 34,309 cuts, down 70% from the 114,083 cuts announced through February 2021. It is the lowest monthly total since June 1997, when 15,091 cuts were recorded. It is the lowest January-February total since the firm began tracking job cuts in 1993.

“The latest numbers give more evidence that job creation is strong, and employers continue to hold fast to their workforces. The churn in the labor market is coming from resignations,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Reasons for Cuts and Top Industries

Over a third of cuts in February were due to market conditions: 5,558 jobs were cut for this reason. Another 4,671 cuts were due to store, unit, or plant closing, while 1,430 cuts were due to workers refusing to get vaccinated against employer policy. Since June 2021, employers announced 14,821 cuts due to vaccine refusal.

For the third consecutive month, Health Care/Products, which includes hospitals, health care products manufacturers, and other care-related entities, announced the most job cuts with 3,875 in February. The Government sector saw the second highest number of cuts in February with 3,010, followed by Entertainment/Leisure with 1,032.

Top five industries with job cut numbers in February 2022

Hiring Announcements Highest February Total Ever

While job cuts remain at record lows, employers in the United States announced 215,127 hiring plans, the highest monthly total since September 2021, when seasonal hiring pushed hiring plans to 939,790. It is the highest February total since Challenger began tracking monthly hiring figures in 2002. 

Retailers announced the highest number of hiring plans with 114,118, followed by Entertainment/Leisure with 22,369. Government announced plans to hire 17,266, while the Automotive sector announced 14,486.

“Semiconductor chip shortages and supply chain issues still plague automakers and manufacturers. That said, the pivot to electric vehicles is driving hiring in the sector,” said Challenger.

Ford announced it was halting production for one week at a plant in Kansas City due to semiconductor shortages. The war being fought in Ukraine will have additional impact on supply chains, Challenger added.

Economic Impact of Russia Invading Ukraine

“It remains to be seen what the full impact of Russia’s attack on Ukraine will be for global economies, as Ukrainian exports are halted and stalled, as Ukrainian workers fight and find safety, as the stiff global sanctions on Russia take hold,” said Challenger.

“COVID concerns are impacting the labor market less than the high number of quits that are forcing companies to offer better pay and benefits and more flexibility. While another wave of cases or a more virulent variant may spike layoff announcements down the road, the issue for employers at the moment is finding and keeping staff,” he said.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

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