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Survey: U.S. Job Cut Figures 'Worrisome'

By Agence France-Presse U.S. companies slashed more than 73,000 jobs last month as announced layoffs accelerated for a second consecutive month, a survey released June 1 said. Announced job cuts were up 1.6% in May from April, following a 6.1% increase in April from the previous month, according to a monthly tracking survey by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The greatest weakness was in the retail and financial sectors in May -- the worst month in a year-over-year comparison in the last six months. For the year to date, U.S. employers have announced 408,392 job cuts, or a monthly average of 81,678 -- 28% below the pace through the first five months of 2003. "Overall, job cuts are down from last year and significantly lower than the record numbers we saw in 2002 and 2001, but there are still some worrisome trends," said John Challenger, CEO of the firm. "Increased job cutting in the retail, financial and industrial goods sectors is not what one would expect in a strong recovery situation. "Furthermore, while job cuts have remained below 100,000 for four consecutive months, we still have not returned to pre-recession levels, when job cuts averaged about 51,000 per month," he added. The firm, in its first report on hiring trends, also reported that U.S. firms announced plans to create 55,307 jobs in May -- principally in the service sector and among government employers. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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