August Layoffs Lowest Since 2010

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The outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas has released its job-cuts report for August, indicating that July layoffs declined by 12.5% below July’s layoff count, which had dropped by 37% from the count in July of 2011.

Announced August layoffs totaled 32,239, down from 36,855 in July. In August 2011, employers had announced job cuts of 51,114. So far this year, a total of about 352,000 job cuts have been announced, up 15% over the 363,000 announced in the first eight months of last year.

The telecommunications sector led the layoff parade, with 4,584 job cuts announced in August. Some 4,000 of the cuts were expected, and due to the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG). So far this year, telecom companies have shed nearly 19,000 jobs, up nearly 150% compared with the first eight months of 2011.

John Challenger, the company’s CEO, said:

Job cuts slowed significantly over the summer, but it is too early to determine whether this is a trend. There have been other signs of economic improvement, including an uptick in home prices and strong automobile sales. However, there seem to be just as many reports showing continued trouble, such as three months of contraction in manufacturing.

Challenger also noted that significant job cuts at Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), Research In Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM), Sharp Corp., Qantas Airlines and Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) could have an impact on the U.S. employment outlook:

The US does not exist in a bubble. The ongoing crisis in Europe and weak economies around the globe will undoubtedly take a toll on the economy. There is a chance workers might be spared from a renewal of large-scale job cuts, but the situation beyond our borders certainly will not inspire companies to start adding workers en masse.

The computer industry continues to lead in total layoffs announced for the year to date, with nearly 37,000 job cuts announced so far, followed by the transportation sector, which has announced layoffs of more than 32,000 workers. Layoffs in the computer industry are 233% higher in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period a year ago.

Combined with today’s reports from ADP and the U.S. Labor Department’s report on new claims for unemployment benefits, Challenger’s August data indicates that the employment situation in the United States may be improving, even though high job losses in the first few months of the year still weigh heavily on year-to-date numbers.

Paul Ausick

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