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January job numbers reflect stronger market

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Dale Chandler's unemployment insurance notice sits on a table on October 8, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The U.S. government reported today that the U.S. economy continued to shed jobs for the month of September. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent in August

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JEREMY HOBSON: Well if you believe the groundhog who reportedly did not see his shadow this morning it's going to be an early spring. And if you believe the numbers this morning the nation's employment picture is already heating up. The job placement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas says employers announced just 39,000 job cuts last month. That's the lowest January figure since tracking began in 1993.

Let's bring in John Challenger the firm's CEO. He joins us live. Good morning.

JOHN CHALLENGER: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: So on average, John, employers announce about 100,000 job cuts each January -- last month it was just 39,000. is that number as good as it seems?

CHALLENGER: Well the cuts were up 20 percent from December, but that was a very low month as well. And it's very unusual because usually what we see is a big spill over affect in January as companies hold off laying people off in the late part of December and then they move them into January. So this is really a very positive sign.

HOBSON: Where are the job cuts that we did see coming from?

CHALLENGER: Job cuts are heaviest in the government sector. That area is still in recession, maybe going into further recession. We saw over 6,000 cuts there. The big deficits are inevitably going to lead to more state, local job cuts at that part of the economy.

HOBSON: And what do you think, John, that this mean for the big employment report that we're going to get on Friday from the Labor Department?

CHALLENGER: I think it's a positive signal. Now the unemployment rate took a big drop from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent. Usually there's an adjustment back when you see that big of a jump. But usually moves in tenths of a percent. But still, all in all, for January and on into 2011, this is a sign that the economy from the labor perspective is getting much better.

HOBSON: Good to hear. John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray and Christmas, thanks as always for your time.

CHALLENGER: Thank you.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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