Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. February 2021 Job Cuts Report

Published march 4, 2021

Planned job cuts announced by U.S.-based companies fell 57% to 34,531 in February from 79,552 in January. It was the lowest monthly total since December 2019, when 32,843 job cuts were announced, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. 

Last month’s total is 39% lower than the 56,660 cuts announced in the same month last year. Through February, employers have announced 114,083 job cuts, 8% lower than the 124,395 announced through the first two months of 2020.

Challenger Analysis

“The churn has come to a halt. If healthy job creation follows, this could mean a full recovery is on the horizon, especially as companies see an end to the pandemic in sight,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. 

“If we do not see jobs begin to return, we could be entering a stagnation cycle, potentially keeping the currently unemployed out of work longer. The good news is we are seeing a high number of hiring plans, particularly in Retail, Entertainment, and Health Care, which were hit hard due to the pandemic,” he added.

Companies announced 146,403 hiring plans in February, primarily led by Retail, which announced 66,486.

Industries With the Most Cuts

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That said, Retail also led in job cuts in February with 9,257. So far this year, Retailers have announced 10,616 job cuts, down 43% from the 18,540 announced through February last year.

Energy followed with 3,736 cuts in February for a total of 5,672 this year. That is 59% higher than the 3,577 announced through this point in 2020. Energy companies were hit hard last year while a price war waged, dropping the price of oil to below zero in April. 

The Energy sector announced 53,704 cuts last year, 90% higher than the 28,218 announced in 2019. 

The Energy sector quarterly job cut announcements 2011-2020

Copyright 2021 Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The Insurance industry announced the third-highest number of cuts in February with 3,128, for a total of 3,253 in 2021. That is 85% higher than the 1,754 announced during the same period last year.

Of the 1,007 Media cuts last month, 90 were in newsrooms. So far this year, digital, print, and broadcast news has announced 332 job cuts.

Most announcements in February were attributed to market conditions, as employers cited this reason for 10,637 cuts. Another 8,112 were due to closings, while 7,299 were due to demand downturn.

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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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