November layoffs rise by 11 percent

/ Source: Reuters

Planned U.S. layoffs rose 11 percent in November from the previous month, led by a heavy round of job cuts in the automotive industry, an independent report showed on Tuesday.

Announced layoffs totaled 76,773 in November, up from 69,177 in October but down from 99,279 a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an employment consulting firm.

The pick-up in planned layoffs was evidence that U.S. economic growth is slowing, as companies trimmed payrolls in anticipation of weakening business conditions.

“There is no question that the economy is slowing. Weakness in the housing market is expected to continue and higher paying jobs in the manufacturing and construction continue to shrink,” Challenger said in a statement.

November’s planned layoffs in the struggling car sector totaled 20,318, which included 12,000 in cuts by Ford Motor Co., which announced that 38,000 hourly union workers had accepted its buyout offer, Challenger said.

In November, Ford dropped from second to fourth in the U.S. auto market as its sales fell by 10 percent.

Year-to-date planned job losses in the auto industry at 151,457 already surpass the previous record total of 133,686 set in 2001, according to Challenger.

In addition to the auto industry, job cuts in the food, chemical, media and real estate sectors have increased by more than 50 percent compared with 2006, Challenger said.

This year’s record number of mergers and acquisitions has also added to payroll cutbacks, it said.

“These corporate marriages typically result in work force reductions as merged companies eliminate redundant jobs. Combined companies will also cut jobs in an attempt to offset some of the cost of completing the deal,” Challenger said.

On a year-to-date basis, expected job losses totaled 785,179, 19 percent below the same period in 2005.

Meanwhile, U.S. employers announced they would add 63,233 jobs in November, mainly temporary hiring by UPS to meeting holiday shipping demand, Challenger said.

The planned hiring compared with 13,012 in October and 96,282 a year ago, it said.