Military cuts push July job cut tally to highest in almost four years

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 145 views 

Job cuts in July crested to the highest level in nearly four years as U.S. employers announced plans to shed 105,696 workers from their payrolls in July, according to the most recent monthly report from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The July total is 136% greater than the 44,842 job cuts recorded in June, and 125% higher than the same period a year ago when planned workforce reductions totaled 46,887. The last time more than 100,000 job cuts were announced in a single month was September 2011, when they reached 115,730.

The July surge brings the year-to-date job cut total to 393,368, which is 34% higher than the 292,921 cuts announced in the first seven months of 2014. This represents the highest seven-month total since 2009, when 978,048 job cuts were announced amid the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Arkansas has trended well with respect to the labor market during the first half of 2015.

The estimated number of employed in Arkansas outpaced the size of the workforce, which held the state’s jobless rate at 5.7% in June. The closely watched nonfarm payroll number was 1,211,400 in June, better than the 1,209,600 in May and up over the 1,188,100 in June 2014. If the June number stands, it will mark a new high for Arkansas. Prior to June, nonfarm jobs reached a high in Arkansas of 1,209,800 in February 2008.

The nonfarm number topped the 1.2 million mark in December, the first time since September 2008.

More than half of the July job cuts were the result of massive troop and civilian workforce reductions announced by the United States Army. The cutbacks will eliminate 57,000 from government payrolls over the next two years.

“When the military makes cuts, they tend to be deep. In fact, the last time we saw more than 100,000 job cuts in September of 2011, it was 50,000 cuts by the U.S. Army that dominated the total. With wars in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down and pressure to cut government spending, the military has been vulnerable to reductions,” said Challenger CEO John Challenger.

In addition to the 50,000 cuts announced by the U.S. Army in 2011, the United States Air Force announced plans in 2005 to reduce its headcount by 40,000. Between 2002 and 2010, the United States Post Office announced three separate job cuts that affected a total of 90,000 workers.

“The transition from the military to the civilian workforce is always challenging, but the economy is in a much better position to absorb this influx of job seekers now, compared to two or three years ago. This does not mean it will be easy for these service men and women, most of whom undoubtedly thought the military would offer career-long job security,” noted Challenger.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among Gulf War II veterans, which includes those from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, has fallen from a high of 15.2% in January 2011 to 5.4%, which matches the national average for all labor force participants.

While the government sector saw the heaviest cuts last month due to military cutbacks, the technology sector also announced several major workforce reductions. Microsoft shuttered the recently acquired Nokia division, which resulted in 7,800 job losses. Electronics and telecommunications equipment manufacturer Qualcomm announced plans to shed 4,500 workers. Chipmaker Intel Corp. also announced workforce reductions totaling 3,180 during the month.

Together, computer and electronics firms announced 18,891 job cuts in July. Computer firms have now announced 25,542 job cuts this year, which is 47% lower than the 48,361 cuts announced by these employers by this point last year.

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