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U.S. job cuts rose 6.1 percent in April

Layoffs in the United States rose 6.1 percent last month, after falling to their lowest level in nine months in March, a report said on Tuesday, signaling the April payrolls report due Friday may not be as strong as in March.
/ Source: Reuters

Layoffs in the United States rose 6.1 percent last month, after falling to their lowest level in nine months in March, a report said on Tuesday, signaling the April payrolls report due Friday may not be as strong as in March.

The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said employers announced 72,184 job cuts in April, up from the 68,034 in March, but still down 51 percent from April 2003.

The Challenger report lends weight to bond market expectations that the April jobs report due at the end of the week is likely to come in weaker than last month.

"Companies wait until the last minute to hire. They only hire if there is no other choice," John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Reuters. Hiring employees is expensive, and companies wait until they are sure the employees will be needed, he added.

Wall Street economists forecast that the economy added 173,000 jobs in April, compared with an eye-popping 308,000 in March.

A decline in the number of jobs added to the economy in April could be a blow to consumer and business confidence, Christmas said.

Despite the uptick in April, layoff announcements are generally falling. The April number was down 51 percent from the April 2003 figure of 146,399.

The 12-month moving average for layoff announcements, which smoothes out month-to-month fluctuations, fell 6.5 percent to 89,105 in April from 95,289 in March.