Retail industry led job cuts in 2019

Marianne Wilson
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The year 2019 saw the highest number of job cuts in the U.S. in four years even as the nation maintained a low unemployment rate. 

U.S. employers announced plans to cut 592,556 employees from their payrolls in 2019, 10% higher in 2018, according to a report by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It is the highest annual total since 2015, when 598,510 cuts were announced.

Retail led all sectors in 2019, with 77,475 cuts, 21% lower than in 2018. Of the cuts last year, 48,753 were due to bankruptcies. (Bankruptcies were the cause of 10.5% of all job cuts across all industries last year, the highest since 2005.)

“The sectors with the highest number of cuts this year were all dealing with trade concerns, emerging technologies and shifts in consumer behavior,” said Andrew Challenger, VP, Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “We tracked a lot of hiring activity in these industries as well.”

Retailers announced plans to hire 886,515 workers last year, with the majority (789,781) of them being seasonal.