United States job cuts so far this year surged 231 percent compared to the same period of 2019 as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the once-healthy economy, according to a new report Thursday.
Though the pace of announced layoffs is slowing, the number of job cuts announced by US-based employers through August already surpassed the previous full-year record set in 2001, according to outplacement and coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The data are the latest indication of the awful employment situation facing many American workers as the country weathers the world's worst coronavirus outbreak.
All told, employers have announced nearly two million cuts this year, and COVID-19 was cited as the reason for more than half.
"The leading sector for job cuts last month was transportation, as airlines begin to make staffing decisions in the wake of decreased travel and uncertain federal intervention," said Andrew Challenger, the firm's senior vice president.
"An increasing number of companies that initially had temporary job cuts or furloughs are now making them permanent."
Airlines have been badly hit by a slump in passenger demand caused by the pandemic, and transportation has cut 131,571 jobs this year, nearly 500 percent higher than 2019, the report said. And that was before United Airlines on Wednesday announced another 16,000 layoffs in October.
The Labor Department later Thursday is set to announce the tally of new claims for unemployment benefits filed last week, a metric that saw an unprecedented spike starting in March when business shutdowns to stop the virus's spread began.
Around 27 million people continue to receive some form of government unemployment assistance, according to the latest Labor Department data, and the Challenger reports sheds further lights on the grim hiring situation in the world's largest economy.
Entertainment and leisure companies – like the bars and restaurants forced to close by social distancing orders – recorded the second-highest number of announced layoffs in August, and a stomach-churning 8,128 percent increase in cuts compared to the first eight months of 2019.
States have started lifting lockdown restrictions in a bid to revitalize the economy, and the report indicated the pace of layoffs seemed to be slowing, with the August total of 115,762 down 56 percent from July.