General Electric Co.’s workforce declined again in 2021, and is now about half what it was at its recent peak six years ago, but the rate of decline was the slowest since the current losing streak started.
In the industrial conglomerate’s annual 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, the company said it had approximately 168,000 employees globally at the end of 2021, down 3.4% from the 174,000 employees it had in 2020.
said its workforce had decreased “primarily as a result of restructuring,” as the company has been selling off assets and taking “business transformation actions” to boost its balance sheet and results.
That marked the fourth-straight year of workforce declines, which is the longest such streak since at least 1993, the last year for which 10-Ks were available on the SEC’s website.
GE had 55,000 U.S. employees in 2021, or 32.7% of the total workforce, compared with 56,000, or 32.2% of the workforce in 2020.
The charges GE booked as a results of workforce reductions was $695 million in 2021, down from $856 million in 2020.
GE’s total workforce has now declined 46% in four years, from 313,000 in 2017, while the U.S. workforce has been reduced by 48% from 106,000.
The total 2021 workforce was about half (49.5%) of the 16-year high of 333,000 reached in 2015, while the U.S. workforce is just 44% of the 2015 total of 125,000.
On the bright side, the 2021 job reductions were at the slowest rate of the past four years, as the total workforce declined 15% in 2020, 28% in 2019 and 9.6% in 2018.
GE’s 10-K was filed a little more than two weeks after the company reported fourth-quarter results, in which revenue fell more than expected but free cash flow beat forecasts, and about three months after the company announced it was splitting into three separate, publicly traded companies.
In a letter to shareholders also released Friday, Chief Executive Larry Culp wrote that GE had the momentum to succeed in the “biggest transformation” in the company’s history.
“Our employees are essential to the success of these businesses, and we will offer them industry-leading opportunities and incentives to advance their careers,” Culp wrote.
GE’s stock, which shed 2.2% in afternoon trading on Friday, has shed 9.7% over the past three months but gained 5.4% over the past 12 months. In comparison, the S&P 500 index
has lost 5.0% the past three months but rallied 12.8% the past year.
Here is the breakdown of the workforce changes by business segment over the past two years:
Aviation had 40,000 employees in 2021, the same as 2020 but down from 52,000 in 2019.
Healthcare had 48,000 employees in 2021, up from 47,000 in 2020 but down from 56,000 on 2019.
Renewable Energy had 38,000 employees in 2021, down from 40,000 in 2020 and from 43,000 in 2019.
Power employees totaled 32,000 in 2021, down from 34,000 a year ago and from 38,000 in 2019.