Job cuts fell to their lowest level since December, as U.S. employers announced plans to trim payrolls by 38,121 in April, according to the latest report on downsizing activity released Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
April job cuts were 23 percent lower than March, when announced layoffs totaled 49,255. They were 6.0 percent lower than the 40,559 planned job cuts announced in April 2012. April represents the lowest job-cut month since last December, when 32,556 were tracked by Challenger.
Through the first four months of 2013, the pace of downsizing is virtually equal to a year ago. Employers have announced 183,162 job cuts to date, which is only 0.27 percent lower than the 183,653 planned layoffs announced in the first four months of 2012.
“The economic slowdown that began late in the third quarter and is expected to turn into another summer slump has yet to result in increased or widespread downsizing. The biggest concern is that consumers, who had been holding up the economy for so many months, are starting to scale back their spending as wages continue to stagnate,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Consumer spending was up 0.2 percent in March, due primarily to increased heating costs during the unseasonably cold month. Spending in other categories, such as household goods, retail and restaurants declined in March, according to the Commerce Department.