US job cuts top 2.3 million in 2020

·2-min read
Over 222,490 jobs were cut in the US in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

With the shift to home working, and increased mobility among remote workers, the world of work has been turned on its head by the global health crisis. So much so that over 2.3 million job cuts were announced in the USA in 2020, a 289% increase compared to 2019.

The report from the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. states that this is the highest level on record in the US, some 17.8% higher than the previous record high of over 1.9 million job cuts recorded in 2001. The figures do, however, show a slight improvement: 222,493 jobs were cut in the fourth quarter of 2020, down 55.3% from the previous quarter.

"In the final months of the year, companies that may have survived the initial impact of the pandemic in March and April determined staffing adjustments based on increasingly difficult market conditions. While some segments were up, such as warehousing, shipping, financial, and some manufacturing segments, many others were hurt considerably, chief among them Hospitality, Entertainment, and Leisure," explains Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Not surprisingly, companies in the entertainment and leisure sector felt the greatest effects of the pandemic. These firms announced 866,046 job cuts in the last 12 months, marking a record 5,688% increase on 2019. The transport sector wasn't spared the devastating effects of the public health crisis either, with Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. reporting almost 199,600 job cuts, many of which were linked to the downturn in air travel.

The US media sector has also been facing job losses, with 30,711 job cuts announced in 2020 -- 201% higher than the 2019 level. Broadcast, digital and print news were particularly affected by job cuts. In recent months, Buzzfeed, Condé Nast, Vice Media and Vox Media have all reduced their workforce faced with the sudden loss of revenue from advertising and other activities.