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It’s hard to get a handle on the job market these days. While all would agree it’s not good, the specifics are often confusing. A report issued today by Chicago outplacement consultants, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, brings that point to high relief. The report’s broad point is positive: that a few employers have begun to contemplating adding to their work force. Through September, the firm’s research shows employers have announced plans to hire 169,385 workers this year, an 88 percent jump from the last three quarters, and also well above the 2008 year-end total of 118,600.
But just as you were starting to feel a mild sense of optimism, or at least a lower level of dread, down come the hammer: the companies hiring are also firing. Retailers, for example, have announced plans to hire 33,640 workers this year, more than any other sector and far better than 2008, when they added fewer than 4,000 posts. But retailers have also announced more than 95,000 job cuts through September. In the tech world, Microsoft reported plans to hire an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 workers to “support its business strategy in key areas.” But those plans, Challenger notes, were revealed just weeks after the software giant announced that it would trim 5,000 employees from it payrolls over an 18-month period.
“The labor market is extremely fluid, even in the worst of times,” notes John Challenger, the firm’s CEO. “Companies are constantly adding and subtracting workers, sometimes simultaneously.”
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