October 2017 Job Cut Report: 29,831 Cuts, Lowest Total Since 1997

U.S.-based employers announced 29,831 job cuts in October, down 3 percent from the same month last year, when 30,740 job cuts were announced. Employers have announced 25 percent fewer job cuts than they did in the same period last year, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

So far this year, 351,309 job cuts have been announced, 24.6 percent fewer than the 466,352 cuts announced through October 2016. This is the lowest ten-month total since 1997, when 328,816 cuts were announced through October.

“Companies are currently holding on to their workforces, but this may be the calm before the storm,” said John Challenger, Chief Executive Officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Another downturn could be on the horizon for early to mid-2018 and with it, the large-scale layoff announcements that typically follow. Adding to this is the possibility that global factors, including Brexit, could usher in a recession,” Challenger added.

October’s job cut announcements were led by the Health Care sector, which announced 6,373 cuts last month, an increase of 219 percent from September, when 1,997 positions were cut. Through October, the Health Care sector cut 31,134 jobs, a 98.7 percent increase from the 15,661 cuts announced in the same period last year.

The Services sector announced the second highest number of cuts in October, with 3,938, bringing the year-to-date total for the industry to 28,916. This year’s total for Services companies is 201 percent higher than the 9,584 cuts recorded through October 2016.

Pharmaceutical companies announced 3,076 cuts in October, bringing the year-to-date total to 12,821, a 55.6 percent increase from the same period last year, when 8,237 cuts were announced.
Retail has consistently remained the leader in job cuts, with a total of 72,600 cuts announced through October, a 36.7 percent increase from the 53,119 cuts announced through the same month last year.

Meanwhile, holiday hiring announcements were lower through October this year than through the same period last year. So far this year, companies have announced 548,950 seasonal hires, according to Challenger tracking. That is 9.2 percent lower than the 604,800 seasonal hires announced through October last year.

“While announced seasonal hiring is lower than in previous years, with consumer confidence at a record high last month, we may see an uptick in seasonal hiring in Transportation, Logistics, and Retail, with those jobs potentially becoming permanent,” said Challenger.