CNBC reports that layoffs have now hit the highest level for a first quarter in 10 years. This comes as 2019’s job market begins with a slow start.
The total cuts reached 190,410, which is a 10.3 percent increase from the fourth quarter. It is also a 35.6 percent increase from a year ago. This is the worst period since the third quarter of 2015 and it is the highest level for a first quarter since the financial crisis was still affecting the economy in 2009.
"Companies appear to be streamlining and updating their processes, and workforce reductions are increasingly becoming a part of these decisions," Andrew Challenger, vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said. "Consumer behavior and advances in technology are driving many of these cuts."
In January, nonfarm payroll growth grew 311,000 before dropping to 20,000 the next month. The unemployment rate is still only 3.8 percent, which is close to the lowest level in 50 years.
It is expected that Fridays’s Labor Department report on payrolls will show growth of 175,000 and that unemployment rate will be unchanged. Recently, though, there have been signs that the job climate is beginning to change. For example, private payroll grew by 129,000 in just March. This is an 18-month low.
"Several indications, such as the number of companies filing for bankruptcy or closing operations, suggest we're heading for a downturn. The recent proposal to close the southern border adds to the uncertainty and may contribute to more cuts as companies try to adapt," Challenger said.