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U.S. Layoffs Down 5.6%

By Agence France-Presse Job-cut announcements by U.S. companies fell 5.6% in October to 101,840, outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas said Nov. 2. Despite the decline, layoffs remained above 100,000 for the second straight month -- the first time since January and February 2003. "The job market appears to be stuck in the mud. Every time it looks as if things are going to rebound for the nation's workers, a series of reports deflates the optimism," says John Challenger, chairman of the firm. Job reduction announcements are down 40.7% from October 2003, while year-to-date job cuts are down 21% from 2003's pace. If layoff announcements are above 87,000 in the last two months of the year, it will be the fourth consecutive year in which job cuts have exceeded 1 million, Challenger says. Prior to 2001, the highest annual job-cut total was just under 678,000 in 1998. The largest cuts in October were in the telecommunications industry, which had its largest number of job cuts this year. Challenger also says corporations announced 11,425 job openings in October. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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