April Layoff Numbers: Down but Not Out

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-05-06 Print this article Print

The good news? The total number of job cuts are down from April, and they are the lowest they've been in six months. That is somewhat pleasing to hear.

The bad news? Despite being down from last month and lowering, the overall layoff numbers are still a fairly large crap sandwich. But all is not destitute.

Let's turn to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas for some data and perspective:

Planned job cuts announced by U.S. employers totaled 132,590 in April, a 12-percent drop from the 150,411 layoffs recorded the previous month. This marks the third consecutive decline in monthly job-cut announcements and the lowest total since 112,884 cuts were announced last October...

While job cuts have been trending downward, the pace is still well ahead of last year. The April total was 47 percent higher than the 90,015 job cuts announced the same month in 2008. Employers have announced 711,100 job cuts this year, 145 percent more than in the first four months of 2008 (290,671).

And look where the biggest cuts are right now (and don't forget the auto industry has been riddled with layoffs):

The government and non-profit sector saw the highest number of job cuts, with 27,624. These cuts were led by New York City, which announced 13,500 cuts, as it suffers the same fate as many cities across the country that face budget shortfalls due to falling tax revenue.

While today's stock market seems to be reacting positively to the news, the short- and long-term state and federal fiscal picture looks rough. Word is that Bank of America is going to need more bailout money.

In other job-related news, industrial goods and retail continue to see major issues with job cuts. As C,G & C points out: "Retail ranks second behind the automotive sector for the most job cuts announced this year."

C,G & C also points out that historically the sumnmer months are when you see the least amount of downsizing, so expect better reports on job cuts in the coming months.

And for other good news, check out this NY Times article that points out that people are actually getting hired these days. It's a refreshing persepective with all the negativity out there. Still, not many of the jobs mentioned in the article are of a highly skilled variety (and no mention of technology jobs).

Regardless, the positive attributes of the article are worth understanding, especially this:

So, while 4.8 million workers were laid off or chose to leave their jobs in February, employers across the country hired 4.3 million workers that month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The best thing you can say about these numbers is it speaks to the dynamism of the U.S. economy, and the net negative number that we all traffic in masks that," said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at ITG, a research and trading firm. "Ninety out of 100 people who know the number -- 650,000 were lost in February -- think that means no one was hired and 650,000 were fired."

Good points all around.

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