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Technology, Government, Financial Sectors Lead First-Quarter Job Cuts

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The technology, government and financial sectors made the greatest number of job cuts during the first quarter.

Across all industries, U.S. employers announced 257,254 job cuts during the quarter, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a Thursday (April 4) press release.

That total was up 120% from the 117,163 cuts announced in the previous quarter but down 5% from the 270,416 layoffs announced in the first quarter of 2023, according to the release.

“Layoffs certainly ticked up to round out the first quarter, though below last year’s levels,” Andy Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in the release. “Many companies appear to bereverting to a ‘do more with less’ approach.”

The most cited reason for job cuts during the first quarter was “cost-cutting,” the release said. Other commonly cited reasons include restructuring; business, unit or store closures; market conditions; and bankruptcy.

The technology industry accounted for the greatest number of job cuts in the first quarter, per the release. The industry announced 42,442 layoffs, down 59% from the 102,391 cuts announced during the same period in 2023.

The sectors with the next-highest number of job cuts in the first quarter were government, financial, services and transportation, according to the release.

Financial firms cut 28,715 jobs in the first three months of 2024, down 6% from the 30,635 cuts announced in the first quarter of 2023, the release said.

“While technology continues to lead all industries so far this year, several industries, including energy and industrial manufacturing, are cutting more jobs this year than last,” Challenger said in the release.

The final month of the first quarter — March — saw the highest number of job cuts since January 2023, according to the release.

The total of 90,309 layoffs announced in March was up 7% from 84,638 in February and up 0.7% from 89,703 in March 2023, the release said.

March’s total was the highest since 102,943 job cuts were announced in January 2023, according to the release.

This news comes a day after ADP reported that private employers added 184,000 jobs in March, the biggest increase since July 2023.

ADP said job gains were robust throughout industries, particularly in the leisure and hospitality space and in construction. The one exception came from the professional services field, which saw a drop in hiring.