Challenger April 2021 Job Cuts Report

Published on: May 6, 2021

Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 25% in April to 22,913 from the 30,603 announced in March. Last month’s total is down 96.6% from last April, when employers announced 671,129 cuts, the highest monthly 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.

So far this year, employers have announced plans to cut 167,599 jobs from their payrolls, down 84% from the 1,017,812 jobs eliminated through the same period last year.

April’s total is the lowest monthly total since June 2000, when 17,241 cuts were recorded. 

Challenger Analysis

“The good news is that employers are no longer undergoing massive cuts, consumers are beginning to feel safe traveling and spending, and the number of job openings is edging higher. The bad news is we’re experiencing a labor shortage despite the millions of Americans still out of work,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million more Americans are counted among the unemployed than pre-pandemic and another 3.1 million more Americans are numbered among the long-term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or longer.

“The ongoing impact of increased vaccinations and the American Rescue Plan will be reflected in April job numbers, with a likely decline in both the unemployment rate and weekly initial jobless claims and an increase in job openings,” said Challenger. 

Job Hiring Announcements

According to Challenger tracking, not only are job cut plans lower, but hiring announcements have also fallen from pandemic highs. Through April 2021, employers have announced plans to add 392,578 jobs, a 68% decrease from the 1,221,680 announced through April last year. Those hiring plans were primarily from grocers, delivery apps, big-box retailers, food chains, and warehouses. Despite the decrease from 2020, the January-April hiring total is higher than every preceding year except 2019.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Which Industries Saw the Most Layoffs?

Aerospace/Defense leads all industries in job cuts this year with 32,003, a 28% increase over the 25,050 cuts announced through April 2020. Telecommunications follows with 24,639 cuts, down 12% from the 27,961 cuts announced last year.

Entertainment/Leisure and Retail led all industries in cuts during the pandemic last year. They are still in the top five industries for job cuts, but the numbers are much lower. So far this year, Retailers have announced 12,541 job cuts, down 89% from the 114,327 cuts announced through April 2020. Entertainment/Leisure companies, which announced 415,206 job cuts through April 2020, plan to cut 11,149 jobs so far this year, a 97% decrease.

News Industry Layoffs

Challenger continues to follow losses in the News industry, which is tracked as a subset of Media cuts. So far this year, Newsrooms have cut 883 jobs. That is down 68% from the 2,772 cuts through April 2020. These cuts include digital, print, and broadcast news. Newsrooms cut 16,160 jobs in 2020, the highest total on record and up 13% from the previous high of 14,265 in 2008.

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