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Early jobs report shows planned layoffs falling

Planned layoffs for last month hit a 10 month low, but the fields that experienced the worst of it included call centers.

Jeremy Hobson: Tomorrow we’ll get the all-important March jobs report from the Labor Department which will tell us how many jobs the economy added last month and what the new unemployment rate is. Economists are hoping it’ll show a continuation of what we’ve seen over the last few months, which is more than 200,000 new jobs.

This morning, the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that the number of planned layoffs dropped last month to a 10-month low. John Challenger is CEO of Challenger, Grey, and Christmas and he’s with us live now from Chicago. Good morning, John.

John Challenger: Good morning Jeremy.

Hobson: What do your numbers tell you about the job market and what can expect tomorrow?

Challenger: These are positive numbers -- a 10 month low, and just over 37,000 and down 27 percent from February, down 9 percent from March a year ago -- so a real signal that the economy right now, from a labor standpoint, is in good shape.

Hobson: Now last time we talked a month ago, you said that you were seeing some higher numbers of planned layoffs but that combined with good job growth meant that we were in a dynamic job market. Now that your number of planned layoffs is falling, what does that mean?

Challenger: Well it still suggests I think, we’re in a period where companies have set the stage -- they’re not laying many people off -- for the kind of hiring that will really continue to drive unemployment down. Unless we see some shock to the economy, maybe these high oil prices, we should see strong hiring in the month to come.

Hobson: And John, where are you seeing layoffs, what sectors are we talking about?

Challenger: In the month of March, heaviest layoffs were in telecomm, particularly call centers. A number of companies, from Verizon to Wells Fargo, QVC, all cut jobs, T-mobile as well, in call centers. But otherwise it was really quite spread out between consumer products, transportation, and other sectors.

Hobson: John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Thanks as always.

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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