March marks the second increase in job cuts in three months, after a 59 percent gain was recorded in January. However, the significance of the March increase is tempered by the fact that it follows a February job .cut total of 42,090, the lowest in nearly four years.
Overall, the report states downsizing is well below last year’s levels. March job cuts were down 55 percent from the same month in 2009, when 150,411 planned layoffs were announced. The first-quarter total of 181,183 is 69 percent lower than the 578,510 layoffs announced in the first quarter of 2009. The first quarter is the lowest Q1 total since 2000.
March job cuts were dominated by planned reductions on government payrolls, which totaled 50,604 or nearly 75 percent of all planned layoffs announced during the month. The majority of the government cuts came from the United States Postal Service, which plans to reduce its headcount by 30,000 workers this year. Since USPS is not permitted to lay off employees, it will achieve the reductions through retirements and attrition.
Year to date, government employers have announced 61,800 job cuts, or about one-third of all announced layoffs.
The other 20,604 public-sector job cuts came from state and local agencies, including many school districts, which all continue to suffer massive budget shortfalls.