US tech job cuts up in July; overall cuts hit new high

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said today that job cuts in the U.S., particularly in the technology and manufacturing areas, have reached an all-time high.

Since the beginning of the year, the telecommunications, computer and electronics markets have announced a total of 358,375 jobs cuts, compared to the 26,758 cuts announced in 2000, according to the Chicago-base firm.

The company said there have been 175,350 cuts in the telecommunications industry so far in 2001, compared to just 6,848 in 2000; 101,044 cuts in the computer industry since the first of the year, compared to 10,976 last year; and 81,981 cuts in the electronics industry this year, compared to only 8,938 in 2000.

Challenger said the total number of job cuts in all industries for 2001 is 983,337 so far, compared to 613,960 in all of 2000. Challenger said the previous high was 677,795 job cuts, recorded in 1998. Challenger started keeping job-cut statistics in 1993.

"Job cuts tell us as much about the economy's future as they do about the present," John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement. "Companies are looking at their staffing needs for the balance of 2001, and the numbers do not present a very positive picture. If companies were anticipating a 2001 turnaround, with an increase in demand for goods and services, we would not be witnessing the extraordinary number of job cuts that are taking place this year."

The most worrisome aspect of the job-cut numbers, in terms of serving as an economic barometer, is the fact that job cutting has been heaviest in manufacturing and technology."

According to Challenger, the 205,975 total job cuts announced in July are 65 percent higher than the 124,852 cuts announced in June, and 222 percent higher than the cuts recorded in July 2000.

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