Layoffs, cutbacks raise joblessness in 98 percent US cities

February 5th, 2009 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) As layoffs and cutbacks soared to record levels to hit workers across America, unemployment rates rose in 98 percent of metropolitan areas in the US, according to key employment reports.The number of planned cuts announced in January rose to the highest level in seven years, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc cited by CNN. And ADP’s National Employment Report found that private-sector employers cut 522,000 positions.

Job cut announcements by US employers soared to 241,749 in January, up 45 percent from December’s 166,348 cuts, according to Challenger. That was the highest number of job cuts since January 2002.

Layoffs rose 222 percent - more than triple - from January 2008, when 74,986 job cuts were announced.

On the heels of the worst holiday season in decades, the retail sector was hit the hardest. Boosted in a large part by Circuit City, 53,968 job cuts were announced.

Following retail, the industrial goods industry cut 32,083 jobs last month, while the computer, pharmaceutical and aerospace industries also notched large losses.

Separately, TrimTabs Investment Research said Wednesday that the US economy lost 650,000 jobs in January after shedding 683,000 jobs in December.

The Labour Department reported that the unemployment rates in 363 of 369 metropolitan areas rose in December 2008, compared with the same month in the prior year. In November, 364 of 369 areas reported higher unemployment rates.

According to the report, 168 areas reported jobless rates of at least 7 percent, compared with just 33 a year ago, and 40 areas reported rates that were higher than 10 percent. Just 22 metropolitan regions had unemployment rates that were under 4 percent, down from 112 last year.

A total of 95 regions registered unemployment rates that were at least 3 percentage points higher than a year ago. Not one region had a jobless rate decrease of more than 0.2 percentage point during that period.

The Labour Department is expected to report Friday that the economy lost another 500,000 jobs, according to a consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.

The national unemployment rate is expected to rise to 7.5 percent from its current level of 7.2 percent, its highest rate since January 1993.

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