Chicago — Aug. 31
United States-based employers announced plans to trim 51,114 workers from the payrolls in August, a 23 percent decline from July, when the number of job cuts hit a 16-month high of 66,414, according to the report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
The August decline follows three consecutive increases in the monthly job-cut total that saw cuts rise from 36,490 in April to the July peak. The August total, however, was up 47 percent from a year ago, when employers announced 34,768 job cuts.
Employers have now announced 363,334 planned layoffs so far this year. That is only 2.9 percent below a 2010 eight-month job-cut total of 374,121. The gap between 2010 and 2011 year-to-date job cuts has steadily fallen during the last few months. In March, year-to-date job cuts were 28 percent behind 2010. By June, the difference dropped to 17 percent. Now, less than 3 percent separates 2011 and 2010.
“July job cuts spiked as a result of a handful of surprisingly large job-cut announcements in the private sector. It is too soon to tell whether those cuts were an anomaly, but they appeared to be driven by industry- and company-specific trends, as opposed to larger economic ones. In August, the private sector once again took a backseat to the government sector, which saw job cuts surge to the second highest monthly total this year,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
In August, government agencies announced plans to cut 18,426 workers from their payrolls. That is nearly double the 9,389 job cuts announced in the sector in July and not far behind the largest government job-cut month of the year: March, when these employers announced 19,099 job cuts.
The government sector has now announced 105,406 job cuts this year. The next closest sector is retail, which has announced 40,173, including 5,901 in August.
“Unlike previous months, the government job-cut announcements in August were not dominated by state and local agencies. Instead, the federal level led the way with heavy reductions among the civilian and officer ranks across three branches of the military,” Challenger said. “More workforce reductions at the federal level are undoubtedly coming down the road. Congress and the White House are under immense pressure to cut federal budgets, and while the heaviest cuts are due in 2014, we will probably begin seeing some fallout starting this year and into 2012.”