Led by Retail and Tech, Planned Job Cuts Jumped in January

Retailers had a slow holiday season, helping boost total job cuts by nearly 50 percent.

A furniture store posts a 'Going Out of Business' sign in a residential strip mall on Nov. 11, 2008, in Manassas, Va.

The economy posted widespread job losses in January, due in part to cuts in retail employment.

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American employers announced in January they would cut 45,107 jobs, 47 percent more than the 30,623 announced in December, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Retail firms announced more cuts than any other industry last month, at nearly 11,400 jobs. That’s 71 percent more job cuts than retailers announced in January 2013. A struggling JC Penney announced 2,000 layoffs in January, as well as 33 store closures, and Walmart also announced Sam’s Club would cut 2,300 jobs. Target and Macy’s were also among the major retailers announcing layoffs in January.

In fact, retail cuts go even further than these numbers suggest, says Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger.

“Starting in January, retailers started shedding the tens of thousands of temporary seasonal workers hired to help handle the holiday rush,” he said in a statement. “The announced job cuts, on the other hand, will impact full-time, permanent workers in the stores and at the corporate offices of these struggling chains.”

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The tech sector, meanwhile, was the second-leading source of job cuts, saying last month they would cut 6,456 jobs. That’s nearly 150 percent of the job cuts they announced in January 2013, when they announced 2,626 job cuts. Challenger said most of these planned cuts came from chip maker Intel and data storage company EMC.

The financial industry announced 44 percent fewer cuts than one year ago, saying in January they would cut just over 4,817 jobs. That’s a significant reduction for the industry that led in job cuts in 2013.

Different industries had different reasons for deciding to cut their payrolls. For example, while many retail stores had disappointing holiday sales numbers, says Challenger, tech companies’ cuts were “due to shifts in business strategies.” Meanwhile, finance may still want to brace itself for more cuts, as banks cut the staffs they had built up to deal with the aftermath of the housing crisis.

The report comes just one day before the Labor Department’s much-anticipated January employment report. However, that report will not reflect all these announced job reductions, as some of them will be spread out over time. Intel, for example, announced in January it would cut just over 5,000 jobs by the end of 2014, many of which the company said would come about through employees retiring or quitting.