(Retail Dive) Dive Brief:
- Employers announced 184,920 job cuts during the first quarter of 2016, up 31.8% from the 140,241 cuts tracked in the same period last year and 75.9% more than in Q4 2015’s 105,079 job cuts, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas’s monthly and quarterly report. March’s total, however, was 21.7% lower than the 61,599 layoffs in February and the lowest monthly total since December’s 23,622 cuts.
- Significant cuts in the retail and computer sectors combined with declines in the oil business to lead the Q1 surge, according to the report. The retail sector recorded the second highest number of job cuts compared to other industries with 31,832 in Q1, up 41% from 22,502 in Q1 2015. Only the energy sector ranked higher in Q1, at52,901 job cuts.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday that the proportion of Americans employed is at its highest level in two years, up somewhat to 63% as the economy added 215,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate rose to 5%, compared with 4.9% last month, because more Americans are looking for work.
Dive Insight:The Labor Department released its most upbeat employment report yet, with March statistics that appear to signal real strength in employment, including better jobs at higher wages.
But Challenger’s report is another indication of the American economy’s somewhat tenuous position, and a clear sign of turmoil in the retail sector. Retail industry job losses soared in March 2016, reaching 8,490 in March, up from 1,096 the previous month and ahead of the 6,640 retail job cuts reported in March 2015.
Among the retailers announcing job cuts in the first quarter:Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bebe and Avon.
It’s all a reflection of how technology is changing many of the most affected sectors, including retail, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger.
“We, as a nation, and really as a global community, are changing the way we produce and consume energy. We are also changing the way we buy goods and services,” Challenger said in a statement. “These changes are necessary and inevitable, but they come with a cost in the form of job loss. However, while jobs are being lost in some areas, they are being created in others, including renewable energy, online retailing and mobile computing.”