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US layoffs ease to 48,207 in March: Challenger

U.S.-based employers announced fewer layoffs in March than during the previous month, but 2016 is still turning out to be a tougher year for workers as job cuts spread beyond the American oil patch, a report said Thursday.

"Job cuts have slowed since surging in the first two months of the year, but the pace is still well above that of 2015," Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said in a statement. "And, it is not just the energy sector that is seeing heavier job cuts. Layoff announcements have increased significantly in the retail sector and computer sector as well."

March marked the second-consecutive period of month-to-month decreases, as employers said they expected to hand out 48,207 pink slips, a nearly 22 percent decline from February.

But on a year-over-year basis, total layoffs were up nearly 32 percent both in March and for the first quarter of 2016.


The energy sector lead the losses for the quarter. U.S.-headquartered energy companies said they plan to pare back payrolls by 7,747 in March, putting the quarter total at just over 52,900.

Pink slips also continued to pile up in the retail sector. Nearly 8,500 cuts in March brought the three-month total to 31,832. And while the computer sector saw fewer layoffs this month, it still sits comfortably in third place for the quarter with payroll reductions totaling about 17,000.

"What these sectors share in common is that they are all going through transformational changes," Challenger said. "These changes are necessary and inevitable, but they come with a cost in the form of job loss."

The Challenger report comes a day before the Labor Department releases its March jobs data. On Wednesday, ADP and Moody's Analytics said U.S. companies hired 200,000 employees in March.