Layoffs around the U.S. fall to lowest level since 1993
Corporate layoffs are falling to their lowest level in nearly 30 years as the U.S. job market bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic. The number of announced job cuts in November fell to 14,875, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That's the lowest figure since May 1993.
"[I]t's no surprise job cuts are at record lows. Employers are spread thin, planning best- and worst-case scenarios in terms of COVID, while also contending with staff shortages and high demand," Andrew Challenger, the company's senior vice president, said in a statement.
Government figures released on Thursday also show unemployment claims — a proxy for layoffs — falling steadily. Some 222,000 claims for jobless aid were filed in the week ended November 27, the Department of Labor said. That's a small rise from the previous week's figures, which hit a 50-year low, but close to the typical weekly number before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last winter.
Coming after months of strong hiring, the figures suggest that employers are eager to retain employees amid a broad shortage of workers and as millions of Americans quit their jobs.
"Just as employers have a persistent demand for more labor, and certainly holding on tight to their existing workforce, the pace of firings continues to fall," Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer with Bleakley Adisory Group, said in a report.
Overall, 2 million Americans were receiving traditional jobless benefits the week that ended November 20, down 107,000 from the week before. The number of Americans receiving some form of jobless aid, including from federal programs, peaked at more than 33 million in June 2020.
The job market has rebounded strongly since the spring of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close or cut hours and kept many Americans at home as a health precaution. In March and April last year, employers slashed more than 22 million jobs.
But since last summer, unemployment claims have fallen more or less steadily as businesses reopen, bolstered by relief checks and enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government. Companies now complain that they can't find workers to fill job openings, which hit a near-record of 10.4 million in September.
Still, even as the job market tightens, economists are wary about the spreading of new variants of the coronavirus. The highly transmissble Omicron variant could disrupt the economic rebound, some say.
"[R]enewed health concerns are a downside risk that may prevent people from returning to the workforce over coming months," Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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