Challenger: Job Cuts Blast Off in April

May 5, 2003 ( - The latest report on planned US job cuts in April screamed "gloomy" with the downsizings skyrocketing by 71% to 146,399 from March's 85,396 figure.

According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., that was the highest monthly figure since November 2002 when employers announced 157,508 job reductions.

Forty percent of the April cuts came from the public sector as state and local governments battled their own financial crises. The 57,927 job cuts announced by government agencies in April were the largest one-month total from a single industry/sector since September 2001. That is when transportation unsurprisingly eliminated 96,333 jobs in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

April was the second time this year that the government/nonprofit sector led all others in monthly job cuts.  The sector has announced 119,585 cuts in 2003, more than double the second-ranked retail industry, which has announced 55,260 employment reductions this year

The Challenger report shows that the total April job cuts were 30% higher than April 2002 (112,649) and brought the 2003 job cuts to date to 502,194, which is only 10% lower than the four-month total recorded a year ago (555,783).

April’s sobering Challenger report followed the company’s March data, which showed that employers announced plans to put 85,396 people on the street, down from February’s level of 138,177  (See  Challenger: Fewer March Layoffs Didn’t Produce More Hiring).

Last week, the US Department of Labor announced that the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 6% and that the economy continued to bleed jobs – this time by 48,000 (See   Jobless Rate Jumps; US Payrolls Keep Shrinking).