Top Ten Job Cutters for April (FSLR, PPG, YHOO, DOW, KMB)

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported this morning that employers planned 40,559 layoffs in April, up 7.1% from the 37,880 job cuts in March. In April 2011 36,490 job cuts were planned, the lowest total for all of last year. Total job cuts planned for the first four months of 2012 equal 183,653, up 9.8% from the total of 167,239 planned for the same period last year.

The ten companies planning to make the most cuts this month account for nearly 35% of the monthly total.

The top three job cutters for the month include First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), PPG Industries Inc. (NYSE: PPG), and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), each of which plans to cut 2,000 jobs this month in corporate restructurings.

The state of Washington plans to cut 1,266 government jobs in April to save money; American Airlines is cutting 1,200 non-union workers as part of its bankruptcy restructuring; Albertson’s food stores are firing 1,130 workers in Florida where the chain is closing all its stores; the US Department of Agriculture is chopping 1,000 chicken inspectors as a cost-cutting move; and the San Diego Unified School District plans to let 975 educators go in another effort to save money.

Rounding out the top ten are The Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) which is cutting 900 jobs; Grove Park Inn, also cutting 900 jobs as the result of a merger with KSL Resorts; and Kimberly-Clark Corp. (NYSE: KMB), cutting 760 jobs in a restructuring move.

The slightly better news is that the monthly average for the first four months of 2012 is lower than the monthly average for the first four months of 2011, 45,913 compared with 50,507.

The largest number of planned cuts were in the education sector, where state and local governments have been forced to trim jobs as revenues sink and budget deficits rise. The sector is looking at job cuts of 9,027 in April, up a whopping 142% from the March total of 3,733 job cuts. The slightly better news here, as well, is that total job losses in 2012 to date are lower than for the same period a year ago.

Government agencies are also reducing the number of cuts they are planning. Challenger’s CEO noted:

There have been some concerns that the economy may be headed for a repeat of last year’s spring and summer slowdown. While job gains may indeed hit a lull in the coming months, we do not foresee a sudden upsurge in downsizing activity. Even with the increased job cuts in consumer products, retail and transportation, the monthly totals remain well below levels that would signal a reversal in the recovery.

Job losses since 2010 have averaged about 47,000/month, compared with 104,000/month in 2008 and 2009. According to Challenger:

Job creation, while in positive territory for 25 consecutive months, has definitely ebbed and flowed. Even at its best, job creation is falling well short of what is needed to make a substantial dent in unemployment. While some would like to attribute the lack of hiring to uncertainty and regulatory roadblocks, the fact is that demand for goods and services simply has not reached a level that warrants accelerated hiring.

Reduced government spending and soft consumer spending are being partially offset by increases in business spending, but overall spending remains too weak to “drive the economy forward.”

Paul Ausick

Data courtesy of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.