Planned Job Cuts Dip Slightly in November, Challenger Says

November 30, 2011

The pace of U.S. job-cut announcements slowed slightly in November, but the 11-month total for 2011  exceeds the 12-month total from 2010, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas announced Wednesday.

Planned job cuts unveiled by U.S.-based employers in November decreased 13% from the same month in 2010, when employers announced plans to eliminate 48,711 jobs. Employers reported 42,474 job cuts last month, down slightly from 42,759 in October. November was the second straight month of decreased job cuts after planned reductions reached a 28-month high of 115,730 in September.

The 564,297 announced job cuts so far in 2011 already exceed the 2010 total of 529,973 and are 13% more than the comparable 11-month period in 2010.

Government led all sectors for the eighth straight month with 18,508 November job-cut announcements, or 44% of all cuts.

Civilian cuts by the U.S. Air Force in November accounted for 13,500 of the government job reductions as the U.S. armed forces announced significant workforce reductions for the third consecutive month. For the year, agencies at all levels of government announced 180,881 job cuts, compared with 138,979 through November 2010.

The financial sector saw 1,681 layoffs announced in November, bringing the 2011 total to 56,191—a 162% increase from the 21,430 job reductions announced during the first 11 months of 2010. Financial sector job cuts hit a recession high of 260,110 in 2008.

The retail sector ranks third behind government and financial services in year-to-date job cuts with 48,338 layoffs announced, up from 33,814 a year ago. Retailers said in November that they would eliminate 2,285 jobs, down from 4,264 in October.

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement that increased retail hiring is possible in late November and early December after strong sales on the key shopping dates of Black Friday (Nov. 25) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 28).

Retail stores recorded record-high sales of $11.4 billion on Black Friday, a 7% increase over 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. Cyber Monday online spending reached $1.25 billion, the heaviest online spending day in history and a 22% increase over 2010, according to market research from comScore.

In October, retailers accounted for 133,940 of the 159,177 hiring plan announcements tracked by Challenger. Plans to add 63,527 were announced in November; seasonal jobs with shipping company UPS accounted for 55,000 of those jobs.

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