Steve Chiotakis: A new job report this morning paints a more hopeful picture for private sector workers. Consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas said employers announced slightly more than 51,000 planned layoffs in August, which is down 23 percent from last month, but still at a higher level than a year ago.
John Challenger heads up the firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. He’s with us live from Chicago to talk about this morning’s report. Morning John.
John Challenger: Good morning.
Chiotakis: These numbers are down for the first time, as I mentioned, in three months. Is that a hint at least that the job market is turning around?
Challenger: It’s certainly positive news. Fears were up in the previous month because layoffs had jumped to a 16 month high. People were worried we might be moving into a period of much heavier layoffs. But they’ve flattened out — even fallen — and that’s good news.
Chiotakis: We still see the government laying off more people in your report, certainly more than the private sector. Is that do you think, going to continue, especially in these times of budget cuts?
Challenger: Certainly seems to be the case. Government announced plans to cut 18,000 workers — nearly double what we saw in July. And unlike previous months, these announcements weren’t dominated by state and local agencies. It was the Federal level that led the way with heavy reductions among the civilian and officer ranks across three branches of the military. So, more seem to be on the way.
Chiotakis: How does this bode, John, for Friday’s big Labor Department employment report? I mean, does it mean we see a big bump in job creation for the month?
Challenger: Well, that’s the key statistic and what we’ve seen for now much of the last year is that companies are holding onto their people — there was just 33,000 layoffs in the private sector — but they’re not hiring many people. Expectations are for about 100,000 coming up, that’s just not enough to really propel the economy forward on a stronger growth path.
Chiotakis: Comparing where we are now, to where we’ve been, are we seeing enough improvement to really make a difference?
Challenger: We’re seeing slow growth. Companies aren’t going out and hiring a lot of people, but they are responding to that GDP growing 1 percent, that growth in demand. Until they get more access to credit, and they really start to take risks, we’re not going to see a big change from where we’ve been over the last year.
Chiotakis: Just a slow go. Alright, John Challenger joining us from Chicago. John, thanks.
Challenger: Thank you.
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