Job cuts down; hiring expected to pick up nationwide

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

Two companies that track employment offered up some good news Wednesday: Planned job cuts fell in August, and hiring is expected to pick up during the rest of 2010.

The latest national look on downsizing from Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas shows that planned job cuts by employers in August fell to 34,768, the lowest monthly drop in more than a decade.

Announced job cuts last month were down 17 percent from cuts in July, the outplacement consultant said, and 55 percent below the 76,456 cuts for the same period in 2009.

Another bit of encouraging news: The August drop marked the first decline following three consecutive months of increases. “… The lay-off picture has improved so significantly that we are at levels when it comes to monthly job-cut announcements,” John A. Challenger, the company’s CEO said in a statement. 

The industrial sector was the largest job-cutting employer in August, followed by government/nonprofit and retail. Year to date, the government/nonprofit sector has announced the most jobs at 112,378, with pharmaceutical the second hardest-hit industry with 37,265 cuts.

“If there is a double-dip recession on the horizon, either companies do not see it or they have no slack in their existing work forces. The recovery may indeed be stalling, but any slowdown is unlikely to lead to a sudden resurgence in mass layoffs,” Challenger said.

Robert Half International also expects a boost in hiring.  According to the California company’s most recent Professional Employment Report, 6 percent of 4,000 executives polled by telephone throughout the U.S. said they expect to increase the number of full-time staff in professional occupations in the fourth quarter. “Companies that overextended their teams are now selectively adding full-time employees,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

Companies in the business services sector predict the most active hiring, particularly in the legal field, with 23 percent of executives planning to increase staff levels. “There’s no question that 2010 has been — and continues to be — the year for litigation, bankruptcy and foreclosure firms,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half senior vice president. “We don’t see any signs indicating a slowdown in these areas for the foreseeable future, as case backlogs, the housing market and overall employment rates continue to be concerns.”

The U.S. Labor Department will report its national August jobless figures on Friday.


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