September Job Cuts 186% Higher

The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas on Thursday reported that announced job losses in September rose 2.6% month over month to 118,804, 186% higher than the number of cuts announced in September 2019.

For the first nine months of this year, nearly 2.1 million jobs have been lost, up 348% compared to the same period last year. The total number of jobs lost this year is already higher than the previous record of 1.96 million job cuts announced in 2001.

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Andrew Challenger, vice president of the outplacement firm, noted that even though the jobs outlook has improved since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced layoffs and firings continue to set new records.


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In September, COVID-19 was named as the cause of 45,213 job cuts, while another 33,713 were attributed to lack of demand and 11,562 were attributed to restructuring. For the first nine months of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for nearly 1.24 million job losses.

“We are beginning to see cuts spread to sectors outside Entertainment and Retail. Especially if another relief package fails to pass, employers are going to enter the fourth quarter hesitant to invest or spend,” Challenger commented.

The entertainment/leisure sector was hit hardest in September, with 32,099 announced cuts, a total that includes 28,000 cuts at Disney’s theme parks. Through September, the entertainment/leisure sector has announced 831,150 job cuts, a year-over-year increase of more than 7,500%.

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The aerospace/defense sector announced 18,971 job cuts last month, the second-highest total of any industry. For the year to date, the sector has cut nearly 75,000 jobs, up more than 1,100% year over year.

Cuts in the transportation sector totaled 16,628 in September, the third-highest total for the month. So far this year, almost 150,000 job cuts have been announced in the industry, a year-over-year increase of 517%.

On the plus side of the ledger, employers announced plans in September to hire nearly 930,000 new workers. In the retail sector, 326,887 new hires were announced in September as retailers prepare for the holiday shopping seasons. So far this year, retailers have announced plans to hire more than 936,000 new workers.

The entertainment/leisure sector also announced last month plans to hire nearly 280,000 new workers, bringing the annual total to more than 431,000. McDonald’s announced 260,000 new hires last month.

Florida-based employers announced the most job cuts in September, with 23,171 planned layoffs. Massachusetts (18,689 planned layoffs), California (16,627), New York (15,288) and Georgia (5,650) round out the five states losing the most jobs in the last month.

Wednesday morning, ADP reported that private sector payrolls increased month over month in September by 4818,000, well short of expectations for a gain of 650,000. The employment situation report for September is due Friday, and economists are forecasting that nonfarm payrolls will show an increase of 894,000. Nonfarm payrolls rose by nearly 1.4 million in August.

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