Photo by ChinaFotoPress — Getty Images
By John Kell
June 5, 2014

Job cuts swelled to their highest level in more than a year, according to data from an outplacement firm, which reported heavy layoffs in the technology sector mostly due to a planned workforce reduction by computer maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

U.S.-based employers announced plans to trim payrolls by 52,961 in May, up 31% from the prior month and the largest one-month total since February 2013, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Last month’s total was also 46% higher than a year ago.

“Five-figure job-cut announcements, such as Hewlett-Packard’s last month, have been rare since the recession ended in 2009,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive of the outplacement firm. He said the last time his firm saw a figure that high was in February 2013 when J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) announced a large cut to its mortgage unit.

HP last month said it planned to cut more jobs, after previously disclosing plans for 34,000 layoffs. The computer industry now leads all other sectors in year-to-date job cuts: totaling 29,863 according to the report.

The job cuts news comes a day after U.S. businesses added a smaller-than-expected 179,000 jobs in May, according to a report by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing. More jobs data is due on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics is due to release a report on the employment situation for May.

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