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Early numbers for February show action in job market

Planned layoffs remain steady as hiring slightly improves. That’s a sign of a more energetic, active economy.

Jeremy Hobson: There are a lot of ways to gauge the health of the economy. You can look at the stock market, home prices, consumer confidence but most economists believe the best measure of the economy is how many jobs are being created. Now tomorrow, the government will tell us how many jobs were added last month and this morning, we learned from the job placement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas about the number of planned layoffs at American companies in February.

John Challenger is CEO and he’s with us live from Chicago with the details. Good morning.

John Challenger: Good morning.

Hobson: So John, what are your numbers this morning and what are they telling you about the job market?

Challenger: Well for the month of February, we saw just over 51,000 job cuts announced. That was slightly down from what we saw in January so the layoffs are relatively flat. But they are up 18 percent from where they were for the first two months of the year, last year at this time.

Hobson: And they’ve been hovering a little higher than they were say, eight or ten months ago in your numbers but also, job growth has been good. What does that tell you?

Challenger: That’s a sign of a more energetic, active economy. Companies are making decisions, they’re not just waiting things out, so it’s a healthy sign. Especially because the job creation has been trumping the losses, adding jobs to the economy and lowering unemployment.

Hobson: And John, what are you expecting for tomorrow’s big report from the labor department?

Challenger: We’re expecting a continuation of the job creation growth we’ve seen. Last month 300,000 extra jobs were added to the report, some were revisions. Along that line, this month, expectations are 200,000 plus jobs in the February number.

Hobson: John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Thanks so much 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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