Challenger: May Job Cuts Dive to 30-Month Low

June 3, 2003 ( - The nation's employment picture looked brighter in May as the number of announced layoffs plummeted 53% to a 30-month low.

According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., employers said they were putting 68,623 people on the street in May, down sharply from April’s 146,399 figure (See  Challenger: Job Cuts Blast Off in April ). The May total was the lowest since November 2000, when 44,152 job cuts were announced.

On a year-over-year basis, the report said May job cuts were 19% lower than the 84,978 cuts in May 2002. May job cuts brought the 2003 total in to 570,817, which is 11% lower than the 640,761 job cuts announced in the first five months of 2002.  

The Challenger report said that the government/non-profit sector cuts had a particularly steep drop to 9,810 in May from 57,927 job cuts in April – an 84% decline. Despite the May decline, government employers have announced more than twice as many job cuts in 2003 as the next closest industry, retail. In fact, through May, government/nonprofit agencies have announced 128,175 employment reductions, 129% more than retail¹s 56,160. The largest job-cutting industry in May was transportation, which announced 9,226 job cuts

Challenger said that several industries that have experienced heavy job cutting over the last two years now appear to be taking a break.  Telecommunications and computer have announced just 54,278 job cuts through May 2003 – 67% fewer than the 165,391 announced in these industries between January and May 2002.