Challenger Job Cuts Surge 19%; Energy Sector Is 38% Of Total: "Falling Oil Hasn't Resulted In Higher Retail Spending"

A month ago we asked if, perchance, the BLS had simply forgotten to add any of the job losses in the energy sector in January, when it reported a drop of just 1900 jobs in the entire Oil and Gas Extraction space, compared to 18K actual announcements, and 21,300 job cuts in the sector as reported by Challenger. Moments ago, the latest Challenger data is out, and we really hope the BLS finally reads it because things in the energy sector are getting worse by the day, if only for its well-paid workers.

According to Challenger, the February total planned job cut were over 50,000 for the second month in a row, or a total of 103,620 in the first two months of 2015, up 19% from the same period last year, with a 38% of the total, or 39,621 of these job cuts, due to plunging oil prices and about to take place in the highest paid oil extraction space.

From the press release:

Employers announced 103,620 planned layoffs through the first two months of 2015, which is up 19 percent from the 86,942 job cuts recorded during the same period in 2014.

 

Once again, the energy sector saw the heaviest job cutting in February, with these firms announcing 16,339 job cuts, due primarily to oil prices.

 

Falling oil prices have been responsible for 39,621 job cuts, to date. That represents 38 percent of all recorded workforce reductions announced in the first two months of 2015. In February, 36 percent of all job cuts (18,299) were blamed on oil prices.

Here is the one chart that the BLS, if it ignored everything else, should look at:

To paraphrase John Challenger, it is unambiguously ungood.

Oil exploration and extraction companies, as well as the companies that supply them, are definitely feeling the impact of the lowest oil prices since 2009. These companies, while reluctant to completely shutter operations, are being forced to trim payrolls to contain costs,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

 

While oil-related companies will see profits slide, the net impact of falling oil prices will likely be positive for the economy, as a whole. Some economists are estimating that GDP could see a 0.5 percentage point boost from low oil prices, due mostly to the extra spending power among consumers. Meanwhile, companies that are big users of oil, such as transportation firms, airlines, and manufacturers of plastic and paint products will see higher profits thanks to cheap oil,” noted Challenger.

Yes, in theory, plunging oil is great. In practice however...

Cheap oil does not yet appear to be helping stem the tide of job cuts in the retail sector, which saw the second highest number of job cuts in February with 9,163. Employers in the sector have announced 15,862 job cuts, so far this year. That is little changed from the 15,242 retail job cuts announced in the first two months of 2014.

The punchline: “So far, falling oil prices have not resulted in higher retail spending.” said Challenger. But, but, they promised.

And finally, here is how the YTD job cuts look when compared between the BLS and Challenger: