The 84,014 job cuts announced in February were the highest in five months, according to a report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
February’s total, though it trailed the 100,315 reductions announced last September, was 33 percent higher than the 62,975 announced in January. February also marked a second consecutive monthly increase in announced job cuts.
Challenger observed that “weakness” in the automotive and home-building sectors seemed to be spreading to other areas of the economy. The food industry, it noted, announced 16,215 job cuts last month.
“We also have seen increased job cuts in the telecommunications and computer industries which, along with the food industry, are highly dependent on consumer buying trends,” Challenger stated. “The job cuts in these areas may indicate that companies are bracing for a slowdown in spending or at least shifts in what consumers are buying.”
Year-on-year comparisons, however, are not so dire. Challenger observed that the 84,014 job cuts announced last month were fewer than the 87,437 in February 2006, and the 62,975 reductions announced this past January were down about 40 percent from the total a year earlier.
The consultancy also pointed out that employers recently announced plans to hire more than 45,750 new workers this year and later. Most of the hiring will occur in the retail sector, where store openings will help create a combined 22,500 jobs in 2007, according to Challenger.