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March planned job cuts hit highest monthly total in nearly two years: Challenger

  • Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says companies announced plans to cut 60,357 jobs in March.
  • The number represents nearly double the previous month.
  • The layoff plans were highest in retail.
A pedestrian walks along Broad Street in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A pedestrian walks along Broad Street in New York.

Companies announced plans to cut 60,357 jobs in March, an increase of 39 percent from last year, a private survey reported Thursday.

The number represents nearly double the previous month, when 35,369 cuts were announced.

"Last month's plans may indicate that growth could be slowing down, especially as the market continues to tighten," CEO John Challenger said in a statement.

Employers announced 140,379 job cuts by the end of the first quarter, a 44 percent increase from the same quarter last year.

"The growth and job creation we've seen over the last few months may be coming to an end. As wages grow and the labor market tightens, companies are going to switch to a no-risk
strategy and potentially begin contracting," Challenger said.

Retailers announced the most cuts in March — representing over half of the total with 35,042. That number is more than seven times the monthly total for the sector from last year. Retail leads all sectors in job cuts this year, with 56,526 — far surpassing the next two closest sectors of health and consumer.

While job cuts may be growing, the LinkedIn Workforce Report released Thursday found U.S. employers hired significantly more people in March than last year.

Both reports come a day before the Labor Department releases its March jobs data. On Wednesday, ADP and Moody's Analytics said U.S. companies hired 241,000 employees in March.