Chicago The new year came in like a lion, as record downsizing in the retail sector helped push the number of planned job cuts announced in January to 241,749, according to a monthly tally released Wednesday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It was the highest number of monthly corporate-announced layoffs in seven years.
Layoff announcements in January totaled 241,749, more than three times as high as in Jan. 2008 and 45% higher compared with Dec. 2008, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It was also the fourth-highest monthly total ever in Challenger, Gray & Christmas’ records that date back to 1993, nearly matching the job cuts announced in Jan. 2002 as well as in September and October of 2001.
Retailers cut 53,968 positions in January, the most ever for the retail sector and the third highest monthly total for any industry. Most of the retail layoffs came in high-profile reductions at Circuit City, which is being liquidated, and at The Home Depot.
Other industries with major reductions in January were industrial goods (32,083); computers (22,330); pharmaceutical (22,063) and aerospace (17,800). The financial-services industry announced just 1,458 reductions in January, the fewest since 2005 and far below the 91,356 announced in November.
January is typically the biggest month of the year for job-cut announcements. The figures are not seasonally adjusted.
The Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey covers announcements of job reductions by major companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.