Challenger Report: November Job Cuts Plummet to Lowest Monthly Total Since May 1993

Published December 2, 2021

Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers plummeted 34.8% in November to 14,875 from the 22,822 announced in October. It is the lowest monthly total since 14,086 cuts were recorded in May 1993, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

November’s total is 77% lower than the same month last year, when 64,797 cuts were announced. So far this year, employers have announced plans to cut 302,918 jobs from their payrolls, down 86% from the 2,227,725 jobs eliminated through the same period last year. It is the lowest January-November total on record. The previous lowest occurred in 1997, when companies announced 376,057 cuts through November. 

Challenger analysis

“With the Omicron variant emerging and the unknowns that come with its spread, coupled with the ongoing difficulty hiring and retaining workers, it’s no surprise job cuts are at record lows. Employers are spread thin, planning best- and worst-case scenarios in terms of COVID, while also contending with staff shortages and high demand,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Companies are in limbo over the legal challenges to the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) rule that will require companies with at least 100 employees to ensure workers are either vaccinated or tested regularly. Government contractors and health workers will not have an option to test. Currently, approximately 59.4% of the population is fully vaccinated and 20.9% have received booster shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vaccine refusal layoffs across industries

Vaccine refusal has accounted for 7,227 job cuts so far this year, 384 of which occurred last month. Of those, the vast majority (6,322) occurred in the Health Care/Products sector. Another 595 occurred in Transportation companies, while 305 occurred in Government entities. Five cuts were reported at organizations in the Education sector. Related: 22% of layoffs due to vaccine refusal in October.

Industry sectors with the most dismissals

Companies in the Technology sector announced the most job cuts in November with 1,980, for a total of 12,761 through November, down 84% from the 77,826. The Services sector announced the second-highest total in November with 1,835 for a total of 26,996 this year.

Aerospace/Defense companies have announced the most cuts this year with 34,543, 60% lower than the 85,814 announced through the same period last year. 

Energy companies announced 1,282 in November for a total of 21,537 for the year. This is 56% lower than the 48,656 cuts announced through November 2020.

Reasons for announced job cuts 

Company closings caused the most cuts in 2021 with 62,599, followed by restructuring, which was cited for 56,865 cuts so far this year. Market conditions were cited for 50,394. COVID-19 has been cited as the reason for 8,904 cuts this year, compared to 1,105,599 cuts attributed to COVID-19 through November last year.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Seasonal hiring plans

Through November, Challenger has tracked 940,300 seasonal hiring plans from Retailers, Transportation, and Warehousing companies, up 11% from the 849,350 announced during the 2020 holiday season. It is the most since the firm began tracking these direct announcements in 2012.

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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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