Challenger: January Job Cuts Skyrocket

February 3, 2004 ( - At a time when the domestic job market is supposed to be slowly mending, companies announced 26% more job cuts in January 2004 then they did the month before.

According to the monthly data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, there were

117,556 planned cuts, a significant leap from December’s 93,020 (See  Job Cuts Up in Q4, Down in ’03 ). The January total was also 11% under the same period a year ago.

Historically, January has been a heavy job-cut month since Challenger began its tracking in 1993.  It has surpassed 100,000 job cuts six times, more than any other month.  December, the next heaviest job-cut month, has surpassed 100,000 only three times.   “It is too early to tell if we are going to have another year of heavy job cutting,” said CEO John Challenger. “We typically see higher job cuts in January as companies set into motion business plans and employment needs for the new year.”

Consumer product companies led all others during the month with 22,775 job cuts.  That is the largest number of consumer products job cuts announced in one month since Challenger began its tracking.