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Reports show mixed unemployment numbers for March


The number of planned job cuts announced in March decreased by more than 19 percent to 150,411 from 186,350, according to data released today by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

In contrast to that report, Automatic Data Processing Inc., a payroll-processing company, said U.S. companies cut an estimated 742,000 workers in March – a drop that was larger than economists forecast and the most since records began in 2001. February’s reading was revised to show cut of 706,000 workers, up from a previous estimate of 697,000.

As for the Challenger, Gray & Christmas report, it marks the first two-month decrease since the February to March decline in 2007. In February, planned job cuts were down 23 percent.

However, despite the outplacement firm’s reports of a downward trend, it stated March job cuts were 181 percent higher than job cuts during the same month last year, and overall first-quarter job cuts were 188 percent higher than during the first three months of 2008.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said employers in the government and nonprofit sector did the most downsizing last month, with 25,324 announced job cuts. The pharmaceutical industry was the second-highest sector for job cuts, announcing 17,796 in March.

Conversely, the financial sector reported relatively few cuts during March. The industry reported 8,651 job cuts, which is well below last year’s average of 21,676 announced cuts per month.

“The good news is that job cuts appear to be stabilizing in the financial sector,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Unfortunately, other sectors are seeing an increase in cuts as the recession works its way through the economy.”

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