Announced October Job Cuts Turn Sharply North

November 4, 2003 ( - A recent trend of good economic news suffered a significant slapdown in October as US employers announced a 125% increase in job cuts over the month before.

According to the monthly survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, there were 171,874 October job cuts, up sharply from September’s 76,506 (See  Challenger: September Layoffs Down 4.3%   ) to the highest level since the announced employee separations reached the 176,010 level in October 2002.

The October surge ended a streak of five consecutive sub-100,000 job-cut months, according to the survey. The lowest figure during the five-month period was June when 59,715 job cuts were announced.

On a year-to-date basis, planned job cuts topped the 1 million level through October, reaching 1,043,954, Challenger said. Job cuts reached that point last year in September and in August the year before.

“With factors like technology, outsourcing and consolidation working against job creation, any job market rebound we see in the near future will be relatively small,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, “It is not helping job seekers that productivity continues to climb, which makes it easier for companies to further delay hiring plans, which we anticipate will happen.”

Also Tuesday, Challenger released a new poll of human resources executives in which more than three quarters (78%) did not expect to see any significant upturn in hiring until the second quarter of 2004. None of the respondents predicted an upturn in the first quarter. Some 11% said hiring would pick up in the third or fourth quarter. Notably, 11% of those polled said that there would be no hiring rebound at all in 2004.