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Monster U.S. Online Jobs Index Edges Up in January

A gauge of U.S. labor demand edged up in January, rebounding from December's sharp decline, as hirings picked up in some service sectors, said Monster, the global online careers and recruiting firm.

However, a separate report from employment consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas showed an increase in planned layoffs.

Monster said its Employment Index, which surveys online job sites, moved up to 168 points in January from 167 in December and 151 a year earlier.

"The labor market is expanding but at a moderated pace from what we saw in the early months of 2005 and 2006," said Steve Pogorzelski, group president of Monster Worldwide Inc. , parent company of Monster.

A strong stock market and booming international trade boosted online recruiting of managers and positions in transportation and warehousing. Online hiring was also strong in the legal and food preparation fields, Monster said.

On the other hand, chilly weather and a cooling housing market continued to depress job demand in construction in January, according to Monster.

Overall, 12 of the 20 industries and five of the 23 occupational categories tracked by the Monster index increased their online recruitment activity in January.

Online job demand in the nine U.S. regions tracked by Monster were flat to lower last month.

The Monster Employment index is a monthly analysis based on a review of more than 1,500 career sites, job boards and other Web sites. The margin of error is plus or minus 1%.

Announced Layoffs Rise 15% From Last Month

Separately, announced layoffs rose 15% to 62,975 jobs from 54,643 in December, according to the Challenger report.

However, January's planned layoffs were 39% lower than the 103,466 job cuts announced in January 2006.

"It is too early to tell if these trends will continue as the year proceeds," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The telecommunications industry led the way in job cuts in January, the report said. The sector is coming off one of its lowest years for job cuts since 2000.

"The demand for telecommunications devices and new drugs remains strong, so it would be a surprise if these industries continue to lead all others in 2007 job-cutting," Challenger
said.

A total of 9,275 jobs were eliminated in the sector during January, the most since last September. The pharmaceutical sector shed 8,279 jobs, with drug manufacturer Pfizer accounting for the bulk of them.

"The areas that could see more cuts in 2007 include automotive companies, particularly suppliers of parts," said Challenger.

"Additionally, many experts feel that the housing market has not hit bottom, so manufacturers of home-building materials, and the real estate and construction sectors could see more job cutting this year," the report added.

Employers announced plans to hire 7,889 workers in January, led by the utility, entertainment and leisure sectors.

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