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Job layoffs in Q1 worst since 2009's first quarter, March jobs report 196k, wage gains fall off

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Layoffs hit their highest level for a first quarter in 10 years as 2019′s job market got off to a shaky start, according to a report Thursday from outplacement firm Challenger, Gary & Christmas.


Total announced cuts hit 190,410, a 10.3 percent increase from the fourth quarter and 35.6 percent jump from the same period a year ago. The level was worst period overall since the third quarter of 2015 and the highest level for a first quarter since 2009 as the economy was still mired in the financial crisis.

“Companies appear to be streamlining and updating their processes, and workforce reductions are increasingly becoming a part of these decisions, ” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement. “Consumer behavior and advances in technology are driving many of these cuts.”



Economists expect Friday’s Labor Department report on payrolls to show growth of 175,000 and the unemployment rate to stay unchanged. But there have been cracks lately that suggest the job climate is beginning to turn. For instance, private payrolls grew by just 129,000 in March, an 18-month low, according to a report Wednesday from ADP and Moody’s Analytics.


The Challenger report pointed to worries about an economic slowdown as being a main driver in the layoff intentions.


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The numbers came a month after February's jaw-dropping gain of just 20,000, which was revised up to 33,000 in the March report. January's big increase of 311,000 also got pushed up a nudge to 312,000, bringing the average gain over the past three months to 180,000. That's still solid though below the 233,000 average monthly gain for all of 2018.



Wage gains fell off the recent strong pace, increasing just 0.14% for the month and 3.2% year over year, below expectations of the 3.4% pace from last month. The average work week increased by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours.


Feeling like the contraction is coming soon. Pity my contract's up next year.

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