Challenger: February Job Cuts Nose Dive

March 2, 2004 ( - Job cuts across the country in February reached their lowest level in five months.

Planned workforce reductions announced by employers fell to 77,250 in February, the lowest monthly figure since last September (76,506).   In addition, February was 34% lower than the 117,556 January job cuts (See  Challenger: January Job Cuts Skyrocket)and 44% lower than the 138,177 cuts announced during the same month last year, according to data supplied by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The latest numbers also point to an uptick over the past two months when compared to 2003’s figures.   Employers have announced 194,806 job cuts in the first two months of the year, which is 28 % behind the pace set in 2003 when companies cut 270,399 jobs in January and February.  

Consumer products (26,593) and industrial goods (25,013) rank first and second, respectively, in terms of 2004 job cuts.  They are followed by:

  • food, 22,310
  • financial, 21,532
  • retail, 18,815.

However, despite the wave of good sentiment, the firm’s chief executive officer, John Challenger says employees are not out of the woods yet, as the average job cut total of the past six months remains above 100,000 (105,943), a benchmark Challenger says indicates that companies are still in a heavy downsizing mode.