Cuts Hit 19,064 in January; 5,757 Due to Vaccine Refusal

Published February 3, 2022

U.S.-based employers announced virtually the same number of job cuts in January as in December with 19,064, up .063% from the 19,052 announced one month prior. It is 76% lower than the 79,552 cuts announced in the same month in 2021, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Vaccines Account For Most Cuts in January

Of cuts announced in January, 5,757 cuts were due to companies shedding workers who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That brings the total number of cuts due to vaccine refusal to 13,391 since June 2021, when Challenger first recorded job cuts for this reason.

“Many employers who implemented vaccine policies last year gave workers until early January to comply. Job cuts remain low, and companies are still hard-pressed to fill open positions. This is a lot of people to cut, particularly in Health Care, where workers are increasingly leaving while those who remain battle intensifying burnout,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Indeed, of the cuts due to vaccine refusal last month, 4,934 were from Health Care providers.

Industries Most Impacted

In fact, Health Care announced the most job cuts in January with 5,053, followed by Warehousing with 3,051. The Services sector announced 1,786 cuts last month, while Entertainment/Leisure firms cut 1,691. Consumer Products manufacturers announced 1,432 job cuts last month.

Employers In Hiring Mode

“While the country undergoes this COVID wave spurred by Omicron, employers are attempting to keep their workers, and in fact, hire more,” said Challenger.

In January, companies announced plans to hire 77,630 workers, the highest January total since 2017, when 136,501 hiring plans were recorded.

Other Reasons for Job Cuts in January

While vaccine refusal accounted for the most job cuts last month, another 4,442 occurred because of store, plant, or unit closings. Companies reported market conditions caused another 3,932. A plant fire that destroyed a Rocky Mount, North Carolina QVC warehouse in December claimed 1,953 jobs in January.

Impact on Labor Market

“Omicron likely slowed the numbers of jobs added in January. Though the Supreme Court decision on the OSHA rule potentially removed a hurdle to hiring, the amount of work companies, particularly Human Resources and Talent Acquisition departments, are undergoing to create and implement their own policies; attract, retain, and onboard workers; comply with the patchwork of COVID guidelines; and grapple with illnesses, will slow hiring processes,” said Challenger.

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