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Auto Sector Cutting Jobs Fastest Since Recession

June 7, 2019
So far in 2019, auto companies have announced 21,446 job cuts, more than triple the amount in the first five months of 2018 and the highest five-month total since 2009.

American automakers are slashing workforces at the fastest pace since the Great Recession a decade ago, slimming down to remain competitive, according to a report released on June 6.

The job cuts by auto firms come as layoffs in the tech and telecom sectors also continue apace, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

President Donald Trump has been especially sensitive to layoffs in the auto sector, which have hit voters and regions that supported him in 2016.

In the January to May period, the number of positions eliminated across all industries was 289,010, nearly 40% higher than for the same five months last year.

Employers based in the United States announced plans in May to cut 58,577 jobs from their payrolls, up 46% from April and nearly double the level in May of last year, the firm said.

"The Tech sector announced the highest number of job cuts last month. Large Tech firms are finding they need to move workers through the pipeline in order to become more agile," said Andrew Challenger, the firm's vice president.

The quickening pace of layoffs nevertheless runs counter to the general picture of otherwise vigorous U.S. job markets, where employers say they are struggling to fill open positions and workers are scarce.

The unemployment rate and claims for jobless benefits are still at historically low levels, suggesting many job losers quickly find new work.

But the change in certain industries has created instability for workers, according to Challenger.

The tech sector announced 12,635 job cuts in May, bringing the year-to-date total to 18,568 -- up 342% from the same period a year ago.

The pace of job cuts slowed in the retail sector -- which continues to shutter stores and move online -- although it was still the largest at 50,243 positions eliminated so far this year.

But in the auto sector it is speeding up. So far in 2019, auto companies have announced 21,446 job cuts, more than triple the amount in the first five months of 2018 and the highest five-month total since 2009.

"Automakers and suppliers, like big Tech companies, are streamlining their workforces to remain competitive," said Challenger.

Ford and General Motors have announced layoffs and plant closures recently, as they attempt cost-cutting and shift to producing more popular models amid declining sales. Ford said last month it would cut 10% of its global salaried workforce in a company reorganization.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2019

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