Job Cuts Surge as Retail Downsizes

Employers announced plans to cut 75,114 jobs in January, the highest number of planned layoffs since July 2015, according to a report issued by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. January’s announced cuts were 218 percent higher than December’s total, and 42 percent above the year-ago rate. The planned cuts were led by retailers, which announced nearly 54,000 future layoffs.

“Retail job cuts came on the heels of relatively strong holiday sales, which increased by nearly 8.0 percent. However, a growing portion of the sales gains are occurring online,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas. “At Macy’s for example, November and December sales at its brick-and-mortar stores fell by 5.0 percent, while orders through its online entities were up 25% from a year earlier.”

Walmart led the cuts in retail, announcing plans to close 269 stores, which will impact 16,000 employees. The energy sector also saw significant cuts, with firms announcing plans to reduce employment by 20,246, the highest total since January of 2015.

“With oil prices expected to stay low for the foreseeable future, the potential for continued layoffs remains elevated,” said Challenger.

Read the Challenger Gray & Christmas release.