Pace of job cuts falls

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For the third consecutive month, the number of job cuts announced by U.S. employers declined in October. The tally dropped 16 percent, from 66,404 in September to 55,679, according to a report released today by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. 

The October job-cut total was the lowest since March 2008.  Compared to a year ago, it stood at 51 percent lower.

After reaching a seven-year high of 241,749 announced cuts in January, the pace of downsizing has slowed steadily in 2009. Yet despite the downward trend, the 1.2 million layoffs announced so far this year are 36 percent higher than the 875,974 cuts recorded through October 2008. 

Areas susceptible to more downsizing include the auto industry and government and nonprofit sectors as states and local governments continue to struggle with budget deficits. “While there are still some trouble spots, the continued decline in job-cutting activity across most industries is a positive sign that the economy is slowly improving,” John C. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.  “… However, it is important to realize that, as deep and widespread as this recession was, it is going to be a long and sometimes painful recovery. It will be particularly painful for the 14.5 million unemployed Americans, who will find that job gains will not come nearly as quickly as the job losses that occurred.” 


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