Challenger: Telecom sector leads job cuts in November

FRAMINGHAM (12/02/2003) - Although planned job cuts dropped by 42 percent, from a 12-month high of 171,874 in October to 99,452 in November, the telecommunications industry was hit hard, with 18,183 cuts, according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The overall November figure was 37 percent lower than the 157,508 job cuts recorded in November 2002.

November marked the second time this year that the telecom sector led all other industries in monthly job cuts. In 2002, telecommunications posted the largest number of job cuts in seven out of 12 months.

So far this year, government and nonprofit agencies have announced 169,924 job cuts, making it the sector with the greatest number of cuts posted during the first 11 months of 2003. The telecom sector ranks second so far this year, with 102,602.

"Job-cut announcements have been on a roller coaster ride this year. One month, job cuts increase; the next, they fall. The lack of any discernable trend in corporate downsizing is indicative of the uncertainty associated with the current economy," said Challenger CEO John A. Challenger in a statement. "One set of economists is saying that a job boom is just over the horizon and another is forecasting that unemployment will average 6.4 percent in 2004."

Challenger predicts that more jobs will be created in China, India and the Philippines than in the U.S. Those nations are seen as beneficiaries of outsourcing by U.S. companies as well as of a surging global economy.

"Between technology and globalization, a large majority of U.S. white-collar jobs will become obsolete and either eliminated or dramatically altered," said Challenger. "We will probably not see a true job market boom until the next economic cycle around 2008."

Challenger said any job market rebound that takes place in the near future will be relatively small and occur in lower-paying industries and occupations.

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