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posted on 03 December 2015

November 2015 Job Cuts Fall to 14 Month Low. But Annual Cuts On Track to Reach 6 Year High.

from Challenger Gray and Christmas

After a four-month stretch that saw more than a quarter of a million job cuts announced by U.S.-based firms, planned layoffs in November fell to the lowest level in more than a year.

The nation's employers announced workforce reductions totaling 30,953 in November, 39 percent fewer than the 50,504 planned job cuts in October. Last month's layoff total was 14 percent lower than November 2014, when 35,940 job cuts were reported.

November represents the smallest job-cut month since 30,477 planned cuts were announced in September 2014. The 14-month low comes on the heels of a four-month period during which 256,263 job cuts were recorded.

To date, employers have announced 574,888 job cuts in 2015. That is 28 percent more than the 450,531 job cuts announced through November 2014. With just one month remaining in the year, job cuts are on pace to be the heaviest since 2009, when 1,272,030 layoffs were tabulated.

While oil-related job cuts have dominated the headlines in 2015, they accounted for just 1,355 in November, the fewest since June (278).

Industrial goods ranked as the top job-cutting industry last month, with firms in the sector announcing 7,398 planned layoffs. That is up 109 percent from the 3,390 job cuts announced in this sector in October.

Industrial goods firms have announced 54,845 job cuts so far this year. That ranks fourth behind energy (92,727), government (70,029), and retail (65,609). Said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The fourth quarter tends to experience heavier cuts, as employers make year-end adjustments to workforce levels in order achieve earnings goals. The November decline could be the quiet before a December storm or it could signal a lower-than-expected downsizing to close out the year. If recent history is any indication, it could be the latter, as December job cuts have been lower than the annual average since the end of the recession.

In 2008, employers announced 166,348 job cuts in December, the second highest job-cut month of that year. However, beginning in 2009, December job cuts have averaged just 35,784.

Overall, the US economy is fairly strong. The increase in job cuts this year is due to a handful of industries. In fact, of the 28 sectors we track, more than half have experienced a year-over-year decline in job cuts. Unfortunately, five sectors have seen job cuts more than double. Job cuts in the energy sector have increased a staggering 708 percent from a year ago.

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