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First Cut: June Challenger report shows where COVID-19 is decreasing need for workers in leisure and hospitality and increasing it in health care

Announced layoff intentions were down 57.1% in June to 170,219 after the 397,016 in May in the Challenger report. Compared to the year ago level of 41,977, June was up 305.5%. Plans to lay off workers remained elevated, although these were the fewest in the last four months.

It should be no surprise that layoff intentions were concentrated in entertainment/leisure (92,954 or 54.6% of the total) where some rehirings are going to be rolled back after a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and government (24,911 or 14.6% of the total) where state and local governments are facing disastrous declines in tax revenues and hard necessities in balance budgets.

Of the reasons given for layoffs, market conditions predominated (89,902, or 52.8% of the total), followed by cost-cutting (28,624, or 16.8% of the total) and COVID-19 (27,314, or 16.0% of the total). I think it is a safe bet that the market conditions that were cited were directed related to the pandemic and expectations that it remains a source of uncertainty and cause of lackluster recovery.

Hiring intentions were up 93.6% in June to 75,454 after 38,981 in May and were up 238.1% from the year-ago month. Among intentions, the largest was for health care and products (50,197 or 66.5% of the total) which is likely a reflection of expectations of continued need for products and services during the long fight to contain COVID-19 and treat the infected. There was an uptick in government hiring plans (10,052 or 13.3% of the total) which was probably federal government hiring for the 2020 Census.

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