Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=40471
Story Retrieval Date: 6/19/2013 7:24:13 PM CST
Job cuts in the U.S. fell 22 percent in June to 55,726 from 71,115 in May due to a higher demand for workers in manufacturing, a Chicago-based job placement organization said Thursday.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said this is a 17-percent decrease from the 67,176 layoffs from a year earlier. However, June is usually a low month for job cuts because companies tend to have the most activity during the first and last quarters of the year. Illinois saw more than 2,300 job cuts in June, the third most in the Midwest after Missouri and Ohio.
John Challenger, chief executive officer at Challenger Gray & Christmas, said the report was generally positive but called special attention to the financial and automotive industries.
“The one area that stands out is financial services,” Challenger said. “It’s the only one that’s seen more job cuts [in the past year]. Financial services, especially when it gets to mortgages and subprime lending, has seen some significant job cuts.”
Almost 30,000 employees in the financial industry were laid off in the first half of 2006. That number has more than doubled, to almost 65,000, the first half of this year.
At the same time, the automotive industry has cut layoffs by almost half from more than 69,000 to about 37,000 so far this year.
“A year ago, automotive was really in the bull’s-eye… being targeted so that the real brunt of the job cutting happened then,” Challenger said. “It is not as bad as it was before. I wouldn’t say [the drop is] positive, by any means, but it’s not in that real heavy period that we saw last year.”
While the report shows that manufacturing companies in the U.S. have laid off fewer workers this year than in the same period last year, the long-term trend in Illinois has been a decline in employment. However, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported that the manufacturing industry was up 900 jobs in May from 678,000 in April. This number was down 2,300 from the same month last year.
In June 1990 the industry had 919,000 jobs. Sixteen years later, 34.7 percent of these jobs have been lost, with only about 683,000 remaining.
John Winzeler, president of Harwood Heights, Ill.-based Winzeler Gear, said his company must produce its plastic gears efficiently and with more precision, despite a shrinking workforce, to be able to compete in the automotive parts industry.
“Fifteen years ago, we had 60 employees that could produce 2 million gears a month,” Winzeler said. “Today we have 45 employees, and our capacity is at 12 million a month.”
Winzeler said the automotive industry “a tough one,” noting that American auto companies have moved off shore, while foreign companies have opened plants in the U.S. “They are a lot more demanding than their American counterparts,” he said.
A CareerBuilder.com-USA Today survey also released Thursday found employers to be fairly positive about hiring in this year’s third quarter, with 35 percent expecting to increase the number of full-time, permanent employees, 5 percent anticipating a decrease and 52 percent foreseeing no change.
“While the job market is slower than last year, it is not a slow job market,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com in a statement. “Employers remain cautiously optimistic in their recruitment plans.”
The survey was conducted online between June 1 and 13 among more than 2,400 human resource professionals in the U.S. The sampling error was calculated to be ±2 percentage points.
However, the survey’s optimistic results do not reflect upon all companies. Gene Ahner, the director of human resources at McCook, Ill.-based Wells-Gardner Electronics Corp., doesn’t see as hopeful a picture for near-future employment at his company.
“It’s not optimistic, it would be neutral,” Ahner said. “The business is steady, but we’re not looking for growth in the next two quarters.”
Wells-Gardner, a company that manufactures and distributes video displays, such as LCDs and analog monitors, has a total of 120 employees located worldwide.