Survey: Employers announced plans for fewer layoffs in February - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Survey: Employers announced plans for fewer layoffs in February

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Source: AP Source: AP

UNDATED (AP) - Fewer workers were losing their jobs last month, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Challenger says job cuts announced in February totaled less than 42,000, down 7.3 percent from January. Challenger says that's 24 percent less than a year ago and the lowest February total since the turn of the century.

CEO John Challenger says this isn't what he'd expect if "the economy is about ready to tip over or we're near recession." He says the relatively low number of layoffs suggests an improving business climate has reduced pressure on employers to cut jobs. At the current pace, he says, the first quarter could see the fewest job cuts since 1995.

The heaviest job-cut activity last month was in the financial sector. Challenger says some of those cuts were related to cutbacks in mortgage lending as interest rates rise, but a lot "were due to the ongoing shift away from branch banking toward increased mobile banking."

US applications for jobless benefits drop to 323k

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level in three months as layoffs remain at pre-recession levels.

The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell slightly to a seasonally adjusted 336,500.

That average indicates that companies are cutting few jobs and anticipate steady economic growth despite the winter slowdown. Applications are a rough proxy for layoffs.

Economists are watching these numbers ahead of the February jobs report being released Friday. Cold weather and snowstorms appear to have limited hiring in January and December.

A total of 3.4 million Americans received benefits as of Feb. 15 - the latest period for which figures are available - down from 3.49 million the previous week.

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