April’s Job Loss Report Less of a Train Wreck Than March’s
The number of job cuts made in April was the lowest since October. That’s the latest from outplacement services provider Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which said today that “planned workforce reductions” in April were 132,590–12 percent fewer than the more than 150,000 recorded in March.
Great news, right? Until you realize that the “planned reductions” to which the company refers were up 47 percent from a year earlier and are still at recession levels. So while this is the third consecutive month in which layoffs declined, the job market is still in lousy shape.
Employers have sacked 711,100 employees so far this year. That’s 145 percent percent more than the 290,671 they cut in the first quarter of 2008. Keep in mind, this is “planned layoffs” we’re talking about. Presumably there were some unplanned ones as well.
“Job cuts are still at recession levels, but the fact that they are falling is certainly promising and may suggest that employers are starting to feel a little more confident about future business conditions,” said Challenger CEO John Challenger. “Hopefully, the next few months will bring further relief, as we tend to see downsizing activity slow during the summer months.”
Yeah, “hopefully.” But don’t count on it. Because Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the economy hasn’t quite bottomed out yet. Which means things may get a bit worse before they get better.
“The most recent information on the labor market–the number of new and continuing claims for unemployment insurance through late April–suggests that we are likely to see further sizable job losses and increased unemployment in coming months,” Bernanke recently told the congressional Joint Economic Committee.