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The Challenger Report shows employers announced 76,835 job cuts in February.

The shortest month of the year saw the highest number of job cuts in over three-and-a-half years, as U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut 76,835 positions from their payrolls in February. That is 45 percent higher than the 52,988 cuts announced in January, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s job cuts are 117 percent higher than the 35,369 cuts announced in February 2018. It is the highest monthly total since 105,696 cuts were recorded in July 2015, primarily due to the U.S. Army’s cutting over 50,000 jobs and tanking oil prices, causing thousands of cuts in the Energy sector.

“Job cuts have been trending upward since the last half of 2018. We continue to see companies respond to shifting consumer behavior, new technology, as well as trade and market uncertainty through workforce restructuring,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Meanwhile, Retailers are closing or revamping brick-and-mortar locations, leading to job loss or going bankrupt and cutting their entire workforces,” said Challenger.

Retail leads all sectors in job cut announcements with 41,201 this year, 92 percent higher than the 21,484 Retail cuts announced through February last year. It is the highest January-February total since 2009, when Retailers announced 72,727 job cuts in the first two months of the year.

By Sector 2019 vs 2018 - Top 5 Industries

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Layoff in retail and industrial production have soared. Health care is one bright spot.

Challenger Cuts By Industry

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Job cuts in aerospace, automotive, financial, industrial goods, retail, transportation, and warehousing are all up significantly this year.

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There are significant improvements in consumer products, health care, and services.

Layoff Location

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The bluest of the blue states got hit the hardest.

Challenger Hiring Plans

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There certainly is a lot of month-to-month volatility. September is the crucial month.

Here's a final set of numbers to ponder:

In 2018, the retail year-to-date hiring plans totaled 66,000. This year, the retail year-to-date total is 0.

These are further significant signs of a huge slowdown.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock