2011 Job Cuts Already Exceed 2010 Total

2011 job cuts highIn yet another sign that recovery in the nation's labor market leaves much to be desired, a new report shows that employers cut more jobs in the first 11 months of 2011 than in all of 2010.

Employers announced plans to eliminate 42,474 jobs in November, raising the total so far this year to 564,297 positions, according to employment-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. In 2010, employers cut 529,973 jobs for the entire year.

So far this year, the number of job cuts announced is 13 percent higher than the 497,969 announced during the same period a year ago, Challenger noted in its report.

For the eighth time this year, the government sector monthly dominated job cuts, with 18,508 announced layoffs in November, or 44 percent of the total number of positions to be eliminated.

Government agencies have announced nearly 181,000 planned cuts to date, 30 percent more than the nearly 139,000 job cuts disclosed through November 2010, Challenger said.

More than 70 percent of cuts in the government sector came from one agency alone -- the U.S. Air Force, which announced plans to cut 13,500 members of its civilian workforce. November marked the third consecutive month of significant civilian or military personnel cuts among the armed forces, according to Challenger.

The military is under immense pressure to cut costs, said Challenger CEO John Challenger, in a statement accompanying the report. "The drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq are likely to result in further personnel reductions."

November Job-Cut Announcements

Another sector at risk for continued heavy downsizing is the financial-services industry. Though banks, brokerages and other finance-related businesses cut fewer than 1,700 jobs in November, to date 56,191 jobs have been cut, 162 percent higher than the 21,430 cuts announced by the same time last year, Challenger said.

Despite the recent uptick in consumer spending, the retail sector trails only government and finance in the number of cuts, with 48,338 announced layoffs to date -- 43 percent more than the 33,814 tallied last year at this time.

Employers cut 2,285 retail jobs in November, even as many stores were boosting staffs in anticipation of better-than-expected holiday sales. Still, Challenger noted, November's total was less than the 4,264 layoffs announced in October.

Challenger said the sector could see increased hiring activity in late November and early December due to stronger-than-expected sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In November, Challenger said, employers announced plans to add 63,527 jobs, with the bulk of the positions -- 55,000 -- the result of seasonal employment offered by shipping giant UPS.

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