September Layoffs Highest in Two Years


The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms in September jumped to its highest in more than two years due to heavy cutbacks by the military and Bank of America, a private report Wednesday showed.

Employers announced 115,730 planned job cuts last month, more than double August's total of 51,114, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

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The figure was the highest since April 2009 when 132,590 layoffs were announced.

September's job cuts were also much higher than the same time a year ago, tripling from the 37,151 job cuts announced in September 2010. For 2011 so far, employers have announced 479,064 cuts, up 16.5 percent from the first nine months of 2010.

``It is important to keep in mind that 80,000 cuts, or nearly 70 percent of last month's total, came from just two organizations: Bank of America and the United States Army,'' John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement. ``Neither of these cuts is directly related to recent softness in the economy.''

Bank of America's 30,000 planned cuts stemmed from continued fallout from the U.S. housing market collapse and restructuring efforts to remake the bank into a smaller, more efficient company, Challenger said.

The 50,000 military cuts were the result of drawing down forces in two wars and cost-cutting efforts in all areas of the federal government. September's cuts followed an announced 17,500 reduction in August, he added.

These military personnel might face tough times finding jobs with companies.

``Perhaps the biggest challenge is taking the often specialized skills and experience gained in the military and translating it to the private sector,'' Challenger said.

On the hiring front, employers announced plans to add 76,551 workers in September, down from 123,076 a year ago, the firm said.

It predicted seasonal hiring would be about the same as 2010 when retailers hired more than 600,000 holiday workers in the last three months of the year. (Reporting by Richard Leong, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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