November’s employment report released last week provided significantly better-than-expected numbers on the jobs front. Payroll counts declined by 11,000 last month—the smallest decline in two years—and job losses in September and October were revised down a considerable 160,000. The declining number of job cuts is showing up in some other data, too.
Across the United States and Europe there was a wave of layoff announcements this week, with more than 70,000 job cuts announced on Monday alone. Another 11,500 job cuts were announced on Tuesday, bringing the total to a little more than 200,000 layoffs announced during the first month of the year (announced layoffs January 2009). Also, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Wednesday that job losses in December 2008 associated with mass layoff events (those that involve at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance) were up 55 percent versus a year earlier. During January, layoffs have spread to more industries and to companies from Microsoft to Starbucks to the world’s largest manufacturer of construction equipment, Caterpillar, all of whom announced layoffs this week.