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U.S. companies announced over 90,000 job cuts in March — the highest number since January 2023

Unilever to spin off Ben & Jerry's
Unilever to spin off Ben & Jerry's, cut 7,500 jobs 00:36

Employers in the U.S. announced 90,309 job cuts in March — a 7% increase from February, according to data released Thursday from executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

That amount of planned layoffs mark the highest monthly total since January 2023, when employers announced 102,943 cuts. Companies are cutting jobs as a result of store closures, bankruptcies, organizational restructuring or general cost-cutting, Challenger said. The cuts suggest that "many companies appear to be reverting to a 'do more with less' approach," Senior Vice President Andy Challenger said in a statement. 

"While technology continues to lead all industries so far this year, several industries, including energy and industrial manufacturing, are cutting more jobs this year than last," he said.

Government jobs led the way in March with 36,044 planned cuts, followed by 14,224 from technology companies, according to Challenger's data. The media industry announced 2,246 cuts, partly because "news organizations are still grappling with business models based on ads and subscribers," Challenger said. 

Tech industry reporting more layoffs 03:58

Ben & Jerry's was among the businesses that announced it would lose staff, with the ice cream maker's parent company Unilever announcing last month it will layoff 7,500 workers worldwide. Credit reporting agency Transunion announced 640 jobs cuts last month, the Chicago Tribune reported. In a regulatory filing, Dell said last month it would lay off roughly 6,000. 

Despite those reductions in the nation's labor force, the number of recent layoffs hasn't been significant enough to make a dent in the overall job market. Historically speaking, layoffs are still relatively low, hiring remains solid and the unemployment rate is still consistent with a healthy economy.

The number of March layoffs may seem baffling given that, by most traditional economic measures, the U.S. job market is strong. The nation's unemployment rate is near a 50-year low and wages are starting to pull ahead of inflation. In January, the U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs, which blew away most economists' expectations

"Job growth should continue throughout 2024, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than in 2023, as the U.S. economy continues to expand," Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC said Thursday. "The unemployment rate should end the year above 4% as slower growth creates a bit more slack in the labor market."

The Challenger figures land one day before the U.S. Department of Labor is scheduled to release the March jobs report. Economists surveyed by FactSet expect businesses to have added 200,000 in March.

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