Announced Job Cuts Lowest for the Quarter Since 1996

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Job cuts announced by companies in the third quarter declined 22.5% to 94,478, the biggest quarterly drop for a third quarter since 1996, according to data from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

So far this year, employers in the United States have announced 321,478 job cuts, 26.2% lower than the 435,612 cuts posted through September last year.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray, said in a statement:

As companies grapple with potential deregulation and changes to health care costs in a tight labor market, employers are holding on to their existing workforces while many positions requiring skilled labor go unfilled.

The quarterly total is the lowest it has been since the fourth quarter last year, when 91,303 cuts were announced.

Job cuts fell in September to 32,346, a 27% drop from 44,324 job reductions announced in the same month last year.

Not surprisingly, the whipsawed retail category leads in announced job cuts, with 71,057 so far this year, 3,461 of which occurred in September. This is a 36.8% increase from the previous year, when 51,939 cuts were recorded.

Even so, the sector also leads in hiring announcements. Through September, retailers planned to add more than 500,000 jobs, both seasonal and permanent. Target announced plans to add 100,000 jobs, compared with the 77,500 positions it added last year. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney are not increasing hires. Department store chain Macy’s, which announced it is closing stores, plans to add 80,000, lower than last year’s additions of 83,000.