Planned layoffs fall to 13-month low in June

Even despite the slowdown in the manufacturing sector in June, all major manufacturing industries tracked by Challenger, including industrial goods, consumer products, aerospace and defense, and computers, saw job cuts decline in June.

“Even with recent signs that the economy is headed for another summer slump or worse, including the first contraction in manufacturing activity in three years, employers appear reluctant to shed too many workers," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger.

“However, barring some major economic catastrophe, companies in the U.S. are likely to hold steady for the remainder of the year," he said. "We probably will not see a major ramp up in hiring or firing; certainly, not before the November elections."

Through June, job cuts totaled 283,091, an increase of 15 percent from a 2011 six-month total of 245,806. 

Yet, those cuts remain relatively low by historical standards. 

In 2008 and 2009, first-half job cuts amounted to 475,948 and 896,675, respectively. From 2001 through 2005, the first six months saw an average of 636,040 job cuts.  

Even in the “expansion” years, job cuts at the midway point totaled 436,458 in 2006 and 393,499 in 2007.

The heaviest job cutting activity in June occurred in education, while the biggest job-cutting industry through the first half of 2012 was the computer industry, which announced 34,380 job cuts.  

Most of the first-half job cuts in this sector hit in May, when Hewlett-Packard announced plans to eliminate 27,000 jobs.

“Overall, 15 industries have seen job cuts increase from a year ago, but we still are not seeing the level of downsizing that might foretell a double-dip recession," Challenger said. 

“Without the government propping up the economy, the responsibility falls to consumers and businesses, and there is simply no evidence that either is ready to go on a recovery-sustaining spending spree."