Construction outfits brought on 388,000 workers in December for their best showing in two years. Manufacturing companies, meanwhile, brought on roughly 283,000 new employees for the second month in a row. November and December are tied for the best monthly hiring totals the manufacturing sector has seen since November 2010.
And although logging and mining hires took a step back in December, dropping to 23,000 for the industry’s softest showing since July, their job openings climbed to 19,000. That’s the highest level seen since September and the second-highest number of postings registered in 2016.
Overall job openings in the U.S. labor market clocked in at 5.5 million – relatively unchanged from November’s performance. Layoffs, meanwhile, ticked up to a four-month high of 1.6 million.
It’s not uncommon for layoffs to climb at the end of calendar years, and December’s total was ultimately up less than 1 percent from what was seen in November. And on the whole, layoffs in 2016 didn’t reach particularly worrying levels as companies continued to hire and create jobs.
A separate discharges report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed layoff announcements in 2016 were down 12 percent over the year – though December’s announcements were up 25 percent from what was seen in November.
Layoffs in the energy sector dominated, as more than 20 percent of all cuts announced last year were conducted by energy outfits. Oil prices, in particular, dropped dramatically at the beginning of 2016 and forced companies to slash payrolls. But with oil now solidifying, energy optimism has taken hold as the country moves further into 2017.
“The new administration … could further benefit the industry by relaxing regulations and drilling restrictions. Oil companies may once again start to expand in 2017,” John Challenger, the company’s CEO, said in a statement accompanying the report. “Ironically, the only obstacle in their way may be a shortage of skilled workers.”
Challenger’s numbers run a month ahead of releases published by the BLS, so January Challenger data is already available. Those numbers show Job-cut announcements were up 37 percent in January from what was seen in December, which doesn’t bode particularly well for the economy going forward. But cuts were largely concentrated in the retail sector, and January’s total layoff announcements were ultimately down 39 percent from January 2016.
“A January surge in retail layoffs has become the standard. Most retailers ramp up hiring in the final three months of the year to handle the holiday rush,” Challenger said in the January report. “However, as consumers increasingly go online to shop, retailers are not only dismissing temporary seasonal workers, but also increasingly closing stores and laying off permanent staff.”
By Andrew Soergel
Source: US News