Layoff Watch: Telco Cuts, Long-Term Unemployed Find New Jobs

There is good and bad news on the job front: The bad news is that layoffs are still happening; the good news is that they are a lot smaller than last January, and workers who were laid off in the last year are getting back to some form of work in larger numbers.

Job cuts across all industries have reached a five-month high at 71,482, according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Retail, telecommunications and pharmaceutical companies are leading the pack in layoffs. The telecommunications sector announced 14,010 in January, said C,G & E. Roughly 13,000 layoffs were announced by Verizon last week as the largest mobile provider continues to transition its business away from legacy landlines and move toward mobile- and Internet-only based business for consumers and enterprises.
Retailers announced plans to shed 16,737 seasonal and full-time employees; Pharma plans to eliminate 8,170 jobs which is the biggest number that sector has seen since last March when it lost 17,796, said C,G & E.
"The increase in January is not necessarily a sign of a recession relapse. It is not uncommon to see a surge in job-cut announcements to begin the year. Companies are making adjustments based on the previous year's results and the outlook for the year ahead. The beginning of the year is particularly rough on retail workers, as these employers enter one of the slower sales periods of the year," said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement. "Heavy job cuts could continue in retail and other sectors through the first quarter. If the past is any indication, however, layoffs should slow in the spring and summer. We are certainly starting 2010 on better footing than a year ago."
In related positive job news, 51 percent of workers who lost jobs in the last year have found full-time work again, said an updated Careerbuilder survey of 1,004 individuals in November. When you factor in those who found part-time work, the percentage moves up another 7 points to 58 percent. Nearly 40 percent had to take a pay cut, but more than 60 percent were able to keep comparable pay or negotiate for raises. One of the most telling statistics in the Careerbuilder survey is half of those who found full-time work are now working in a new field with a third of those folks going on record saying they are enjoying the new work.
"The number of laid-off workers who have found new full-time and part-time jobs rose in the last six months," said Brent Rasmussen, a Careerbuilder president, in a statement. "Although this good news reflects a healing economy, it also shows that job seekers are exploring career options in new industries and locations."
More than a quarter of those with new jobs said they relocated to a new city or state to obtain work, while 37 percent of those still looking for work would consider relocating for a job.
"Despite one of the most competitive job markets in decades, nine in 10 workers say they have not given up on their job searches, and the amount of workers who have found work is evidence that their drive and determination are paying off," said Rasmussen.