Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Made In America,” a round-up of state and global manufacturing news.
CHALLENGER REPORT: U.S. EMPLOYERS SEE SIGNIFICANT DROP OFF IN JOB CUTS FOR MAY
As the nation’s job market tightens, layoffs by U.S.-based employers fell sharply in May, with a total of 30,157 planned workforce reductions recorded during the month, according to the latest report released Thursday from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The May total was 53% lower than the 64,141 job cuts announced in April. It represents the lowest monthly total since last December, when 23,622 job cuts were recorded. April saw 27% fewer cuts than the same month a year ago, when employers reported plans to shed 41,034 workers from their payrolls.
To date, employers have announced 275,218 job cuts in 2016, 13% more than the 242,830 job cuts announced during the first five months of 2015.
As in the months before, the energy sector saw the largest number of layoffs through May, though last month’s tally was significantly lower than previous months. Firms in the sector announced another 7,572 layoffs in May, 60% fewer than the 18,759 cuts in April. For the year, energy firms have now announced 75,232 job cuts, 25% more than the 60,210 cuts announced in the sector from January through April a year ago.
“May could be the start of a summer slowdown in the pace of job cutting as companies take a pause following the period of heavy downsizing that started the year,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “In general, oil prices have improved somewhat since the beginning of the year, though they are still less than half of what they were at oil’s recent peak. However, the recent gains may be enough to at least temporarily slow job cuts in the sector,”
Challenger said outside of the energy sector, many U.S. companies set aside major business decisions to take stock of strategies initiated in the first quarter. “This is also a time when the general pace of business can slow as many employees, including key decision makers, take vacations and enjoy the fruits of their labor,” he
For those reasons, most industries saw job cuts decline in May. Among the most significant declines was in the computer industry, where job cuts plunged 83% from 17,015 in April to 2,836 in May.
Job cuts in the financial sector fell 68% to 901 announced job cuts in May, after reaching a four-month high of 2,847 in April. Meanwhile, retailers announced 75% fewer cuts in May, as layoffs went from 5,145 in April to 1,287, last month.
“Of course, not every summer brings a slowdown in job cuts. Last July saw announced layoffs soar to a four-year high of 105,696. However, last year’s spike was due primarily to massive troop and civilian cuts in the military. Being an election year, it is unlikely that we will see any major workforce changes at the federal level of the government,” said Challenger.
“In other areas of the economy, the latest news is mixed as we head into the summer. Construction spending and auto sales dipped, but manufacturing activity is up. Consumers are less confident in the most recent reading, yet travel plans and spending are expected to increase significantly this summer. The mixed signals provide even more reasoning for companies to take a wait-and-see approach to their summer business strategy,” he said.
MANUFACTURING LOBBYISTS CALLS U.S. JOB REPORT FOR MAY ‘PATHETIC’
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons on Friday called the U.S. job report for May “pathetic,” criticizing Congress and the Obama administration for the slowest monthly jobs gain since September 2010.
“The latest jobs report is pathetic. It is a vivid example of why we need the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) now. The report is a wakeup call for anyone who thinks we are on solid economic ground,” Timmons said. “Policymakers in Washington can’t fix every problem, but they can certainly take action to give manufacturing — and the larger economy — a boost. The TPP will allow manufacturers to sell products we make here in the United States to millions of new customers overseas, and we will hire people to make those products. Congress and the Obama administration need to work together to get this deal done.”
See more of his comments at this link.
NEWSPAPER, PUBLISHING JOBS SLASHED BY 60% IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Few industries have been affected by the digital or information age as much as newspapers and other traditional publishing industries (books, magazines, etc.).
In June 1990, there were nearly 458,000 people employed in the newspaper publishing industry, but by March 2016 that figure had fallen to about 183,000, a decline of almost 60%. Over the same period, employment in Internet publishing and broadcasting rose from about 30,000 to nearly 198,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics TED blog.
Two other industries similarly affected by the digital age and the advent of the Internet are radio broadcasting, where employment declined from January 1990 to March 2016 by about 27%. Motion picture and video production rose from about 92,000 to 239,000 over the same period, an increase of nearly 162%.
U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY FOXX, CHINESE COUNTERPART ANNOUNCE ‘ZERO EMISSION BUS’ CHALLENGE
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and China’s Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang unveiled the U.S.-China Race to Zero Emissions (R2ZE) Challenge during the eighth U.S.-China Transportation Forum in Los Angeles. The R2ZE Challenge is a collaborative and friendly competition that encourages cities and metropolitan transit districts in the United States and China to deploy innovative and advanced non-polluting Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs) in their transit systems.
The targets are considered met when buses are deployed and remain in revenue service on an annual basis. Each target is based on the percentage of the operator’s bus fleet in revenue service that produces zero tailpipe emissions.
In both the U.S. and China, the aspirational goal is to have at least 35% of a participating city’s bus fleet comprised of ZEBs by 2025. Cities and transit agencies in the U.S. and China are invited to join the Challenge. For more information and details on the Challenge and to enroll, visit the official R2ZE website.