Job Cuts Plunge in March

Chicago — April 5

Planned job cuts declined in March to the lowest level since May 2011, as U.S.-based employers announced layoffs totaling 37,880 during the month, according to the latest job-cut report released by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The March total was 27 percent lower than the 51,728 job cuts announced in February and nine percent lower than March 2011, when 41,528 planned layoffs were recorded. It was the lowest monthly layoff tally since 37,135 job cuts were announced last May.

Through the first quarter of 2012, employers have announced 143,094 job cuts, up 9.4 percent from 2011 when first-quarter cuts totaled 130,749. Last year’s first quarter saw the fewest planned layoffs since 97,716 were announced in the first three months of 1995.

Telecommunications firms saw the highest number of planned job cuts announced in March with 4,089. Nearly half of that total (1,900) came from a single announcement by cellular service provider T-Mobile, which is consolidating call centers in an effort to reduce costs. Call center workers were hit hard by March layoffs.

Verizon Wireless also announced the closing of a call center resulting in 750 job cuts. Additionally, Wells Fargo and television/online retailer QVC each announced call center job cuts, impacting a combined 685 workers.

Year-to-date, consumer products is the leading job-cutting sector, having announced a total of 18,438 layoffs in 2012, including 2,118 in March. That represents a fourfold increase from 2011, when these firms announced just 4,571 job cuts through the first three months.

The second-ranked transportation sector has seen an equally large jump in job cuts. Through March these employers have announced 17,051 cuts, up 569 percent from the 2,547 job cuts announced by this point a year ago.

Absent from the list of top job cutters is the government sector, which has seen just 5,750 job cuts this year. That is down 86 percent from a 2011 first-quarter total of 41,929.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.