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Planned layoffs decline in March

A job seeker carries a worn briefcase at the Green Jobs and Entrepeneurship Fair in Berkeley, California.

JEREMY HOBSON: In the past three months employers cut fewer jobs than any quarter since since 1995. That's according to a report out this morning from the job placement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas. It's a report that's watched closely by economists, ahead of the government's monthly employment report which comes out on Friday.

Rick Cobb is the executive vice president of Challenger Gray and Christmas, and he's with us live from Chicago. Good morning.

RICK COBB: Good morning.

HOBSON: So it seems like a pretty strong report, Rick -- am I missing something?

COBB: Actually the only thing that we need to look at this the government jobs spiked up to twelve month highs.

HOBSON: Job cuts in the government.

COBB: The job cuts in the government and private sector went up 18 percent from the previous period and this is the highest in 12 months.

HOBSON: And that's obviously as governments try to cut their budgets, and they're cutting jobs. I noted that you said in this morning's report that as the talent pool shrinks in the country, employers might actually increase their hiring.

COBB: Absolutely. Companies have been running about as efficiently as they possibly can during this downturn, and they're sort of stretched out, so as things begin to improve, companies are going to have to start hiring.

HOBSON: What does this report, Rick, tell you about what the job picture looks like as we await Friday's report from the Labor Department?

COBB: Well, the problem with layoff data is it looks about six to eight months ahead, so what we're looking at are things will probably happen sometime in the next two quarters, but this is a trend that started last year, so we're optimistic about the report coming up.

HOBSON: Rick Cobb, executive vice president of Challenger Gray and Christmas, thanks so much.

COBB: Thank you.

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