Oklahoma is facing a wave of mass layoffs as six companies have announced plans to cut jobs or close facilities this month. The affected industries include energy, manufacturing, retail, and hospitality. The layoffs will impact hundreds of workers and their families, as well as the local economy and community.
Energy Sector Hit Hard by Low Oil Prices
The energy sector is one of the main drivers of Oklahoma’s economy, but it has been struggling with low oil prices and reduced demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of the companies that announced layoffs this month are oil and gas producers: Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.
Devon Energy said it will lay off 300 employees, or about 7% of its workforce, as part of a restructuring plan to focus on its core assets and reduce costs. The company expects to save $100 million annually from the layoffs, which will mostly affect its Oklahoma City headquarters.
Chesapeake Energy, which filed for bankruptcy in June, said it will cut 200 jobs, or about 15% of its remaining workforce, as it prepares to emerge from Chapter 11 protection. The company said the layoffs are necessary to align its operations with its new business plan and capital structure. The layoffs will also affect its Oklahoma City headquarters, as well as its field locations in Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
Manufacturing and Retail Sectors Also Suffering
The manufacturing and retail sectors are also facing challenges amid the pandemic and the global supply chain disruptions. Two of the companies that announced layoffs this month are manufacturers: Whirlpool and Kimray.
Whirlpool said it will close its Tulsa factory, which makes cooking appliances, by the end of the year, resulting in the loss of 150 jobs. The company said the closure is part of a global optimization strategy to consolidate its manufacturing footprint and improve efficiency. The company will offer severance and transition assistance to the affected employees.
Kimray, a maker of oil and gas equipment, said it will lay off 65 employees, or about 10% of its workforce, due to the downturn in the energy industry. The company said the layoffs are a difficult but necessary decision to ensure its long-term viability and competitiveness. The company will provide severance and outplacement services to the affected employees.
The retail sector is also feeling the pinch of the pandemic, as consumer spending and foot traffic have declined. Two of the companies that announced layoffs this month are retailers: Macy’s and JCPenney.
Macy’s said it will close its store at the Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City, as part of its plan to shutter 125 stores nationwide by 2023. The closure will affect 83 employees, who will be eligible for severance and may apply for positions at other Macy’s locations. The company said the closure is part of its strategy to optimize its portfolio and focus on its most profitable stores.
JCPenney said it will close its store at the Shawnee Mall in Shawnee, as part of its plan to close 154 stores nationwide after filing for bankruptcy in May. The closure will affect 72 employees, who will receive separation benefits and outplacement support. The company said the closure is part of its efforts to reduce its debt and streamline its operations.
The mass layoffs announced by six companies in Oklahoma this month are a blow to the state’s economy and workforce, especially amid the pandemic and the holiday season. The layoffs will have ripple effects on the local businesses and communities that depend on the income and spending of the affected workers. The state and federal governments, as well as the private sector, will need to provide support and assistance to the laid-off workers and help them find new opportunities in the changing job market.