Job Cuts Up in Q4, Down in '03

January 6, 2004 ( - December's downward trend in planned job cuts proved indicative of the year, as 2003's layoff total was 16% lower than the previous year's mark.

The December data from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed employers planned 93,020 job cuts in the month, down 6.5% from the 99,452 plan job cuts in November (See November Planned Job Cuts Plummet ).   The December figure was virtually unmoved form the 92,917 cuts a year ago.

Also in the report were the final tabulations for 2003’s job cut numbers.   Throughout the year, there were 1,236,426 job cuts, which was down 16% from the 1,466,823 total in 2002.   The reduction comes after a sudden spike in job cuts during the last three months.   E mployers announced 364,346 planned job cuts in the fourth quarter, surpassing the first quarter by 8,551 to become the largest job-cut quarter of 2003.  Fourth-quarter job cuts were 51% higher than the third quarter (241,548).

In 2003, the largest source of lost jobs was government and nonprofit employers.   Overall, there were 177,215 employees slashed from government and nonprofit payrolls, a whopping 59% more than the second-ranked telecommunications sector, which had a 111,342 industry-wide reduction in headcount.  It was the first time in three years that telecommunications did not lead all other industries.  

Job cut totals in 2003 for other industries included:

  • Industrial Goods – 106,307
  • Retail – 100,518
  • Consumer Goods – 79,378
  • Transportation – 77,001
  • Automotive – 74,506
  • Computer – 62,289.

December’s numbers painted a slightly different picture.   Industrial goods’ 12,039 planned layoffs led all industries, trailed by computer (10,496) and telecommunications (8,740).