Challenger: May Job Cuts Inch Up

June 1, 2004 ( - The number of announced May staff reductions edged up a bit over April - the employment barometer's second straight monthly gain.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that May planned job cuts were up 1.6% to 73,368, from 72,184 in April.   The May increase followed a 6.1% hike from March’s 68,034 total to 72,184 cuts in April.

So far in 2004, employers have announced 408,392 job cuts, or a monthly average of 81,678.   That is 28% below the pace through the first five months of 2003, when 570,817 job cuts were recorded, an average of 114,163 per month. The 12-month moving average rose to 89,500 from 89,105 the previous month.   It was the first increase in the moving average since last December.

In May, retailers led all other sector job cuts with 10,868 – enough to rank it among the top five job-cutting industries so far this year.    The financial sector ranks first among all industries in job cuts announced this year (46,647).   Financial job cuts are 84% higher than a year ago when employers announced 25,350 job cuts through May.   The second-ranked industrial goods sector has announced 44,175 job cuts so far in 2004, 31% more than a year ago (33,819).

For the first time, the Challenger firm also tracked hiring announcements in May when employers announced plans to hire 55,307. The biggest job creation is planned in the service sector and among government employers.