A Slew of Layoffs

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Layoffs were part of the business news yesterday. Enough people lost jobs in a series of three “downsizings” to reminds those who believe unemployment continues to fall that the economy still struggles.

Pacific Sunwear of California (NASDAQ: PSUN) said it would close 200 stores. The company faces competition for the sale of glasses and other personal wear items. Not all retailers will benefit from improvements in sales this holiday season. The news follows a recent announcement that the Gap (NYSE: GPS) will close 200 of its own outlets. For all the retailers who boast that the 2011 holiday season will be strong, several have found otherwise.

AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) could not be in a business more different from Pacific Sunwear. But the large pharmaceutical company finds itself in a period of falling sales. It will cut 1,150 jobs in the U.S. Many will be sales staff, which is a sure sign that revenue growth has become troubled. Either the economy has hurt the company or its products have failed in the market. It hardly matters to those who will lose jobs.

On the same day as the other two job actions, McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) announced it would cut 550 jobs in its education publishing division. Sales of textbooks must have dropped.

The three actions, all in one day, are not directly related to one another. It is open to speculation if they would have happened if the economy was in a substantial recovery. The job cuts do, however, remind those who believe that the employment market has recovered that there are still pockets of trouble large enough to cost thousands of jobs.

Douglas A. McIntyre