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Challenger Says March Layoffs Were Lowest in Months

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that announced layoffs in March were the lowest since July 2006.

“It’s certainly a sign of a very strong job market,” Challenger said Wednesday. “The places were job cuts jumped where in the housing sector, including mortgages, construction and real estate.”

He said pharmaceutical and media companies, especially newspapers, “were experiencing problems, but certainly nowhere near the cuts we’ve seen in the past.”

Early Read on Jobs

The employment consulting firm reported that announced layoffs in March totaled 48,997 compared with 84,014 in February. In July 2006, announced layoffs totaled 37,178.

Challenger said troubles in the housing sector have not spread to other parts of the economy, but sub-prime mortgage lenders, or those who make home loans to borrowers with poor credit, have been hit hard.

“The March numbers are very strong and say the job market is not in any way getting worse – companies are not laying off people in large numbers,” Challenger said. “In fact, they’re holding on to their people, worried that that if business does turn up, they’ll be caught unprepared.”