Layoffs Reach Highest Level In 2 Years

layoffs highest in two yearsLayoffs surged in September to their highest level in two years, a new report shows, as employers cut nearly 116,000 workers last month.

Reductions among the ranks of the military accounted for a large portion of September's job cuts, according the report, compiled by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment-services firm.

Last month's total was the highest since April 2009, when 132,590 job cuts were announced, Challenger said.

It may be easy to conclude based on the data -- combined with other less-than-stellar economic news -- that the economy is indeed heading toward a double dip, Challenger CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

"However, it is important to keep in mind that 80,000 cuts, or nearly 70 percent of last month's total, came from just two organizations: Bank of America and the U.S. Army," he said.

"Neither of these cuts is directly related to recent softness in the economy," Challenger said. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America's cuts are the product of ongoing fallout from 2008's financial collapse, while the reduction in soldiers stems from the winding down of the war in Iraq and overall cost-cutting at the federal level.

Still, Challenger said, the cuts by Bank of America and the military could be harbingers of things to come.

"Bank of America is not the only bank still struggling in the wake of the housing collapse," Challenger said. "And the military cutbacks are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to federal spending cuts and layoffs."

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