Global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., said March’s planned job cut total was 68,034, the lowest since 59,715 cuts were announced in June 2003. The March figure is 12% lower than the 77,250 cuts in February (See Challenger: February Job Cuts Nose Dive ) and 20% lower than the 85,396 reductions from March 2003.
In the first quarter of 2004, job cuts totaled 262,840, 28% lower than the fourth quarter of 2003 (364,346) and 26% lower than the 2003 first quarter when job cuts totaled 355,795. The 12-month moving average, which irons out short-term volatility, fell to 95,289 in March from 96,736 in February. February was the first time the moving average was below 100,000 since June, 2001.
“The heavy job cutting we have seen over the past three years appears to be trending down. However, the job market seems to be in a state of limbo, where companies are eager to hold on to the people they have but many are reluctant to create any new jobs,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer.