Rate of Job Losses, Layoffs Slowing Down
Two reports released on Wednesday show that the US job loss rate may finally be slowing. While jobs are still going away, at least the rate at which companies are cutting workers is lessening a bit.
Automatic Data Processing is a payroll processing firm that released the first report, based on payroll data from 500,000 US businesses. It revealed a silver lining in April 2009’s decrease of 491,000 in private-sector employment: the figure is down considerably when compared to the 708,000 jobs lost in March. And economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected job loses of 643,000 last month, so things weren’t as dim as predicted.
The second report released yesterday was from an outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. The company reports that the number of layoffs announced last month fell for the third month in a row, from 150,411 in March to 132,590 in April. That figure, while still 47% higher than April of 2008, is the lowest announced layoff rate since last October.
2009 has seen announced job cuts of 711,100, compared to 290,671 for the first quarter of 2008. Friday’s Labor Department report will reveal April’s total nationwide job losses, including government, private, and non-profit sectors, expected to be 630,000. The number of jobs lost still reflects a recession economy, and job losses are expected to continue; however, the slowdown in the rate of losses could indicate the U.S. is approaching the bottom of the job loss curve.
Lower New Claims for Unemployment
Last week the Labor Department’s total for new unemployment claims fell by 14,000 to 631,000. The four-week average also declined to 637,250. Economists watch the latter number closely, as it historically has helped them predict when recessions will end. The number peaked in the week ending April 4, so a continuing decrease could indicate the end of the recession tunnel is in sight.
Discount Retail Sales Up in April
Target showed just a slight increase over April 2008 in same-store sales, but overall sales were up 4.5%. Walmart boosted same-store sales of 5.9% in April, while overall sales were up a healthy 7.7%. Ross Stores showed same-store sales increased 6%; overall sales were up an impressive 11% for April 2009.
While other retailers showed continuing sales declines, discount remains a bright spot; seeing these retail giants staying strong is a good economic indicator!
Finding economic good news is not easy, but it’s out there. Employers need to know that all is not as dire as it has been, and there are signs that the economy is starting to improve!
Sources: the Wall Street Journal; ADC; Challenger, Gray & Christmas