Year-to-date job cuts at lowest level in 20 years

Year-to-date job cuts at lowest level in 20 years

U.S. employers cut 29,831 jobs in October, bringing the total number of job cuts for 2017 so far to 351,309 — the lowest 10-month total in 20 years, according to a survey released Thursday.

The survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas found that job cuts in October were down 3 percent from the month before, and that employers have cut 25 percent fewer jobs in the first 10 months of 2017 than in the same period last year.

But John Challenger, the firm's CEO, also warned that a downturn could be on the way, and that the current drop in layoffs "may be the calm before the storm."

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“Another downturn could be on the horizon for early to mid-2018 and with it, the large-scale layoff announcements that typically follow. Adding to this is the possibility that global factors, including Brexit, could usher in a recession," Challenger said in a statement. 

The current unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, the lowest in 16 years. In September, the economy — battered by a string of hurricanes — posted its first job losses since 2010.

The Labor Department is expected to release its monthly jobs report for October on Friday.

Retailers have seen the most job cuts so far this year, with 72,600. In October, however, the health-care sector led the pack in layoffs at 6,373. That brings the total of health-sector job cuts to 31,134 this year — a 98.7 percent increase from the same period in 2016.

While Republican lawmakers have largely floundered in their push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump moved last month to end key subsidies to insurers, throwing the future of former President Obama's signature health-care law into uncertainty.