Mike: Wednesday should be a relatively light layoff day as companies prepare for the upcoming holiday. Once the new year begins, the layoff news will likely be more active.
The important unemployment number is the number of laid-off workers continuing to draw unemployment benefits increasing by 140,000. This indicates that it’s more difficult to find new work once you are released from a job. The reduced unemployment claims (-94,000) have to be attributed to a holiday shortened work week and the desire of some employers to keep workers on the payroll through the holidays. And for some companies, it’s just bad PR to layoff during the holidays.
What I don’t understand is why both the continuing claims increasing by 140,000 and the new claims dropping by 94,000 were both unexpected.
- Microsoft News/Rumors
General Economic News
US and some Canada Layoff News
* WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of laid-off workers continuing to draw unemployment benefits has surged again, as finding new jobs becomes even more difficult amid a deepening recession.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that people continuing to draw unemployment benefits increased by a larger-than-expected 140,000 to 4.5 million for the week ending Dec. 20, the most recent period for which that information is available. That was the most since early December 1982, when the country was emerging from a deep recession, though the labor force has grown by about half since then.
– Jobless claims drop by much more than expected –
* WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits slumped 94,000 last week, government data on Wednesday showed, but seasonal factors were likely behind this unexpectedly large decline with the labor market remaining very soft.
Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 492,000 in the week ended Dec 27 from an unrevised 586,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest reading for initial claims since the week ended November 1, 2008 and the steepest decline since 1992.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 565,000 new claims as the country’s year-long recession continued to chill employment, and a separate reading on so-called continued claims hit a 26-year high.
A Labor Department official said the timing of the year-end holidays and volatility in seasonal factors was likely to blame for the large decline in initial weekly claims and warned this situation could persist for several more weeks.
* SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Speculation has surfaced that Microsoft Corp. might have to move beyond its current hiring slowdown and even cut jobs, as Wall Street analysts pare their outlook for the company amid the economic gloom.
Rumors of layoffs at Microsoft emerged last week on a Web site published by an anonymous, self-described employee who writes as “Mini-Microsoft.” A number of comments from posters describing themselves as fellow employees pegged mid-January as a timeframe for as much as 10% of Microsoft’s roughly 95,000 jobs to be cut.
* If the rumored layoffs do go down, will it be the price Microsoft pays for the over-hiring during the past few years that has led to 94,286 employees worldwide? Mini-Microsoft thinks so.
“Let’s say we are having intensive cutbacks and/or RIFs and layoffs. It is absolutely essential that Microsoft steps back and asks, ‘Whoa, how did we get here and who was leading us?’ How did we go on a drunken hiring binge and continue it even though a year ago most of us realized we were dropping into a recession? It’s irresponsible leadership.”
* Reportedly, Microsoft has already started the internal drill of informing employees that the company is readying major layoffs to its worldwide operations and it’s not a small cut either. As per the various blogs, insiders feel that things are looking grim while a few managers have leaked information about substantial workforce reductions on January 15, 2009.
So effectively, the company seems to be toying with the idea of pruning about 10 per cent of its 90,000 strong workforce to tide over the downturn which, according to net reports, could go up to 15,000 or 17 per cent of the total workforce.
* Microsoft getting ready to lay off 17% of staff *
* Mass Microsoft Layoffs Confirmed? *
Mike: While a furlough is preferable to a layoff, it still strains household budgets that depend on a steady income. This is a tactic that will be used more often in the new year. Companies that take the furlough route must believe that their ecnomic fortunes will soon change and that keeping their employees is better than laying them off and possibly losing them.
* NEW YORK (AP) — Here’s the vacation no one wants, courtesy of the recession: Forced time off without pay.
Financially struggling universities, factories and even hospitals are requiring employees to take unpaid “furloughs” — temporary layoffs that amount to one-time pay cuts for workers and a cost savings for employers. This year, the number of temporarily laid off workers hit a 17-year high.
“If they do it once, I think it’s easier for them to try to do it again,” said Carrie Swartout, who researches traumatic brain injuries at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Maryland is requiring unpaid time off for 67,000 of its 80,000 employees as it struggles with a budget crisis. The state says the furloughs will save an estimated $34 million during the fiscal year.
State governments, facing lower revenues but stymied by the long process required to cut public sector jobs, are using furloughs as a quick way to trim payrolls. Private-sector businesses — from automakers to small businesses — are shutting down factories and offices as sales drop.
Mike: I shouldn’t be surprised that a politician is willing to stop unemployment payments to 77,000 for a demand that has little to do with the people who are due their payment. I saw this same tactic back in the 90s when the senate Republicans held back their support for extending unemployment because they were concerned that people take advantage of the program. While some certainly do, the vast majority would rather be working than collecting a couple hundred dollars a week. While an audit request is the governor’s right, it shouldn’t be used to threaten unemployment benefits.
* AIKEN, S.C. – Time is running out for the 77,000 people who collect unemployment benefits in South Carolina.
On Thursday the state must stop printing checks unless Governor Mark Sanford requests a $146-million federal loan to bail out the state’s unemployment agency.
Governor Mark Sanford says he will not request that $146- million federal loan until he has it in writing that the Employment Security Commission will agree to an audit by the state’s watchdog agency.
Mike: Some yearly layoff tracking of high tech jobs in Oregon:
* Tallying tech layoffs at year’s end
Categories: Job cuts
Through November, Oregon’s high-tech employment was down 2,400 jobs from a year earlier. That decline, 4.1 percent, is the sector’s steepest fall since February 2004.
* Computer maker Dell Inc. said Wednesday that Michael Cannon, president of global operations, and Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer, will leave the company as part of a global restructuring.
* Major layoffs are coming to the city of Toledo. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s office sent the letters out today. According to the president of local-seven, city employees with local-seven and AFSCME Local 2058, which represent more than 1,000 union workers, received notice today from the mayor’s office that they’ll be laid off beginning Friday, February 13th.
* The Finkbeiner administration sent out more than 1,000 layoff notices yesterday to city employees for a citywide shutdown that could last for up to a week of all nonsafety service employees.
“The number of days has yet to be determined, but the first workday [of the layoff] would be Tuesday, Feb. 17, since that Monday is a holiday,” said Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s chief of staff. “It will certainly be through that week. Whether it extends into the next week is yet to be determined.”
* WOONSOCKET — With officials raising the possibility of laying off as many as a third of the community’s police officers and firefighters, the City Council and representatives of Mayor Susan D. Menard met in closed session for about three hours Monday night to ponder a response to the expected loss of $3.2 million in non-school state aid.
* BRIDGEPORT — Another 51 city employees are being laid off as officials continue cutting costs to plug a $20 million deficit and avoid a possible state takeover of city finances.
* BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. – Commissioners in Beaver County have approved the 2009 budget, but it requires hardships in the form of layoffs to cover a deficit of more than $1 million.
Department heads and row offices were delivered a mandate to cut budgets by 10 percent with layoffs expected.
* Motorola (MOT) will fire another 400 employees to cut costs, the struggling cellphone maker said today in a SEC filing. That’ll be another $25 million in Q4 severance charges.
That’s in addition to the roughly 1,500 employees Motorola decided to fire in October. So since the beginning of last year, Motorola has announced some 12,000 job cuts.
* Schaumburg-based Motorola Inc. said late Tuesday that it approved cost reductions that would include 400 layoffs, according to a federal filing.
Motorola said the action was approved Dec. 23 to cut the 400 workers, which would result in a pretax charge, or write-off, of about $25 million during its fourth quarter, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
* Distributor Baker & Taylor has laid off 60 of 3000 staffers in a restructuring aimed to emphasize its library and education outreach and to reduce resources directed to home entertainment retailers.
* Dec 30 (Reuters) – Modular carpet manufacturer Interface Inc (IFSIA.O) said it will cut 14 percent of its global workforce, or 530 jobs, and cease manufacturing operations at its facility in Belleville, Canada, to reduce costs amid softening demand.
* Actavis Totowa announced today that it has agreed to temporarily close its Falls River, New Jersey manufacturing facility, as well as another in Riverview and a packaging plant in Taft as part of a Consent Decree it has reached with federal regulators. The Falls River Actavis plant made several generic drugs, including Digitek, that were subject to recalls this year.
* The only good news Tuesday for about 257 Sealed Air Cryovac employees is that they might have a job for another ten months.
Sealed Air Corp. sent letters to Cedar Rapids employees indicating that the company will be closing the food packaging plant at 1125 Wilson Ave. SW in six to 10 months.
* Several NewsChannel 9 news department staffers have opted for retirement or have been given layoff notices.
They include some some producers and assignment editors, including several with long tenures at the local TV station.
* GREENSBORO — Roadway Express and Yellow Transportation in Kernersville expect 200 to 500 employees to be affected by layoffs and the closing of a trucking terminal in March, a company official said Tuesday.
* AOM Healthcare Solutions of Deerfield Beach, a licensed pharmacy and diabetes products supplier, filed notice Tuesday with Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation that it planned to lay off 353 employees effective Jan. 16.
* SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced Monday that it will close its North Shore office, issue mandatory unpaid furlough days, and might cut staff in the early part of 2009 to help close a more than $500,000 budget deficit.
* WHEELING — Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack has undergone a position consolidation.
The end result is 30 less management, supervisory, director and front line staff.
* A local automotive supplier is laying off more than a hundred workers. Magna Exteriors and Interiors will slash jobs after the first of the year. Three years ago the company announced a collaboration with Chrysler, operating its paint shop at Toledo’s south assembly plant. Now Magna Exteriors and Interiors is cutting its workforce.
* MADISON, Wis. – A Wisconsin company that designs and builds health care facilities has informed the state it will lay off more than 100 workers.
* In an internal restructure of some departments within our TV station, CBS 2 has laid off six people this week. The decision is directly related to these challenging economic times.
* (Source: The Roanoke Times)By Duncan Adams, The Roanoke Times, Va.
Dec. 30–Andrew Kelderhouse, president of Fralin & Waldron, said that he recalls no other double-digit layoff during his 31 years with the construction and real estate development company.
In late October and early November, the Roanoke County-based company laid off 11 employees.
* The group that owns the Grand Junction Free Press and newspapers in Glenwood Springs and Aspen is cutting several positions at those papers and has shut down more of its weekly publications.
The Grand Junction Free Press has laid off two of its five reporters, in addition to at least two more staffers in recent weeks.
* HARRISONBURG, Va. – Tyson Foods will lay off 45 workers at its Harrisonburg plant on Friday.
The company says the layoffs will reduce the number of employees at the plant to 375.
* The sale of Troyer Farms to Bickel’s Snack Foods Inc. was completed on Monday, and the new owners did not hire 32 workers — mainly part-time employees.
* Allina Hospitals & Clinics is closing its Center for Outpatient Surgery at Abbott Northwestern’s Sartell Outpatient Center.
The Minneapolis-based health provider said Monday the surgery center outside St. Cloud will close on Jan. 23. The closing means 22 employees, including 10 nurses, are losing their jobs.
* Thirty more ABX Air workers have been given permanent layoff notices, the company said Tuesday, as operations at the DHL Air Park continue to spiral down.
* FAIRBORN, Ohio — A local company in Fairborn said it has temporarily laid off 20 employees.
About two weeks ago, Cemex had a little more than 100 employees working for the company. However, on Dec. 18, 20 employees were laid off.
* North Sky Communications, a telecommunications contractor, has permanently laid off 57 employees in Woodinville, according to a notice filed with the state Employment Security Department.
* The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has laid off 17 employees, three of whom worked in the local area.
* MIDLAND, Pa. (AP) — A Pittsburgh-area stainless steel manufacturer has laid off more than 200 people since October.
President of the USW Local 1212 at Midland Steve Clutter says only about 10 of the 230 people who had worked at the plant still have jobs.
* Thurston County has eliminated more than 80 full-time-equivalent jobs to cut costs, and today is the last day of work for 28 employees.
One other employee, who works in the treasurer’s office, will stay on until March 31. The remaining reductions stem from jobs being left unfilled.
* VANDALIA, Ohio — Employees at two local companies found out on Tuesday that they have lost their jobs.
The Mazer Corp. in Vandalia closed its doors on Tuesday and notified 200 employees by letters and e-mail that they were out of a job.
Company officials said it simply ran out of money and was forced to close the facility.
In Butler Township, the EFTEC company notified 45 employees that it was closing. Company officials said it was consolidating operations with a facility in Michigan.
* CALHOUN, GA. — It’s a familiar story in Georgia and across the South. Another textile mill is shutting down its operations.
– Mohawk Industries is closing its spun yarn operations in Calhoun, resulting in the loss of 160 jobs. Workers were informed Tuesday.
* A Barnwell County textile plant is closing after more than 50 years of operation – a move that will affect 125 workers.
– Milliken & Co. has announced it will start cutting operations in January and closing its doors for good by mid-2009.
* It wasn’t the New Years greeting that nearly 90 employees at a Belleville plant were wishing for this afternoon. Workers at Interface Flooring on Lahr Drive in the Northeast Industrial Park were informed, late this afternoon, before leaving for their New Year’s break that the facility will be closing at the end of February leaving all of them without a job.
* CEDAR RAPIDS – The Sealed Air Cryovac Plant in Cedar Rapids is closing. About a month ago, Cryovac warned employees the plant might shut down.
Now, more than 250 workers know they will lose their jobs sometime within the next six to ten months.
Mike: A little humor from “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”
* Australia – UNEMPLOYMENT is tipped to near one million with 400,000 losing their livelihoods through 2009, despite expected dramatic interest rate cuts.
In a gloomy new year outlook, economists are predicting unemployment could rise through 2009 from its current 4.4 per cent level towards 8 per cent, costing a further 400,000 people their jobs and pushing the number of unemployed to more than 900,000 – the worst level in a decade.
* BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s unemployment rate rose to 10.8 percent in November as the world financial crisis slowed economic growth.
The national statistics office says joblessness increased from 10.1 percent in October, and from 9.4 percent in the same period of 2007.
* THE country is facing the bleakest three months since the mid-1980s, as opposition politicians warned it could be worse if the Government does not take action to halt the downward spiral.
The country’s main body for personnel managers, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), predicted yesterday that redundancies will soar to about 2,270 a week in the period between New Year and Easter, sending unemployment above the 10pc mark.
* PARIS, Dec 30 (Reuters) – French unemployment jumped sharply in November as companies laid off large numbers of short-term and fixed contract workers in response to the growing economic slowdown, data on Tuesday showed.
Figures from the Economy Ministry showed headline unemployment rose by 64,000 to 2,068,500 in November, the largest rise since at least 1993.
* Security will be foremost on voters’ minds when elections in Israel take place in February, following the military assault on the Gaza Strip, but the importance of the economy should not be ignored. After a mostly crisis-free 2008, new forecasts from the Bank of Israel on Wednesday showed that Israel’s economy is set to run out of steam in 2009, with expected annual growth of 1.5%, down from a preliminary 4.1% in 2008.
Mike: Happy New Year Australia and a Happy New Year to all! –
* Hiring for an early census office that will eventually need about 1,000 workers in Cedar Rapids will begin in earnest next month.
The office based at 221 Second Ave. SE, Suite 240, will “lay the ground work” across Eastern Iowa for local census offices that will do most of the counting for the 2010 census, according to Jerry Young, a partnership coordinator for the Census Bureau.
Mike: Today’s layoff news should be quieting for the New Year holiday, but if there are any dramatic announcements, I’ll post them for you. All the best for you and yours this upcoming New Year.………..