Layoffs hit highest level for a first quarter since 2009: report

Job layoffs hit their highest level for a first quarter since 2009, according to a report released Thursday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Layoffs hit 190,410 in the most recently concluded quarter, up 10.3 percent from 172,601 in the final quarter of 2018 and up 35.6 percent from the 140,379 during the first quarter last year.

The layoffs in the first quarter of 2019 were the highest since the third quarter of 2015, when 205,759 cuts were announced, and the highest in a first quarter since 2009, when 562,510 cuts were recorded.

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“Companies appear to be streamlining and updating their processes, and workforce reductions are increasingly becoming a part of these decisions. Consumer behavior and advances in technology are driving many of these cuts,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of the outplacement firm, said in a statement.

“Another major driver of the uptick in job cuts is economic uncertainty and fears of an upcoming downturn. Companies are reacting to market conditions as much as consumer demand,” he added.

Auto manufacturers led the layoffs with 15,887 jobs cut. Energy companies followed, with 10,548.

“Both Auto and Energy companies are pivoting in response to advances in technology and consumer demand for more efficiency. Companies in these sectors are attempting to attract talent who can compete with tech companies, like Apple and Tesla, which are beginning to compete in this space,” said Challenger.