ByJohn S. McClenahen With the U.S. economy slowing dramatically and lots of CEOs being shown the door for not making their numbers, laid-off managers and executives might be facing a bleak future. But they're not. In the fourth quarter of 2000, the most recent period for which data are available, jobless managers and executives needed only 2.5 months in which to find new jobs, a 14-year low, reports Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc. (CGI), a Chicago-based outplacement firm. The previous low was 2.6 months, recorded during 1998's second and third calendar quarters. "Perhaps what we are seeing is that companies, anticipating an ongoing slowdown, are stocking up on individuals they will best lead them through the downturn," conjectures John A. Challenger, CGI's CEO. During last year's final quarter, the "typical" jobless manager or executive was 46 years old, had spent eight years in his or her most recent post, and earned $78,000.