Challenger: Job Cutters Have Gone After New Managers

September 16, 2003 ( - Companies that wielded the job-cutting axe during the recession increasingly targeted recently hired managers and executives, a new study found.

According to the study by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, during the nine-quarter period from April 1, 2001, through June 30, 2003, an average of 24.4% of discharged managers and executives had spent less than two years with their former employers.

That is 49% higher than the average recorded in the nine-quarter period ending March 31, 2001, which marked the beginning of the recession. In the nine quarters prior to the recession, 16.4% of discharged managers and executives were employed for fewer than 24 months, the Challenger study found.

During the last recession, which lasted from July 1990, to March 1991, a comparatively small 9.5% of those discharged had tenures under the 24-month mark, a figure that is 61% lower than the current level.

Evidence of increased job cutting among short-term managers and executives during the current economic slump can also be seen in the data on tenure of those let go. The average tenure over the last nine quarters fell to 5.3 years, down from 8.3 years in the nine quarters before the recession. During the 1990-1991 recession, the average tenure was 9.3 years.

The stigma attached to these job seekers could prolong the duration of their unemployment. In August, there were 1.9 million Americans who had been out of work for 27 weeks or more. That represents 22% of all unemployed, the highest level in over a decade, the Challenger study said.