Pharma layoffs slow as companies respond to COVID-19 pandemic

The rate of layoffs in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has slowed, with just 32 jobs cut in May compared to 360 last May, according to data from executive outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. 

The industry cut no jobs in April, though the total number of job cuts among all industries was the highest that month since January 2002. 

So far this year, the pharmaceutical industry has cut 951 jobs, compared to 2,596 at this time last year. 

The slowing of layoffs is likely due to efforts by pharmaceutical companies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including many drug companies launching trials to develop vaccines and treatments, according to STAT

In contrast, across all job industries, COVID-19 was cited as the reason for 984,073 job cuts so far this year, more than 69.5 percent of the total announced job cuts. 

But COVID-19 was also cited as the reason for industries announcing 32,000 hiring plans in May. 

The pharmaceutical industry announced 100 hiring plans in May, bringing the yearly total to 660. 

In March, CVS announced plans to hire 50,000 employees, and Walgreens announced plans to hire 9,500. 

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