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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
US job cuts deepen
Construction worker
The economic slowdown is forcing firms to cut jobs
By BBC News Online's North America business reporter, David Schepp

The slowing US economy posted a loss of over 150,000 jobs in March, the fourth month in a row of cuts in excess of 100,000.

That brings the total to over half a million.

Biggest US job cuts so far this year
DaimlerChrylser 26,000
Motorola 22,000
Lucent 16,000
Delphi 11,500
Verizon 10,000
During the first three months of the year, more jobs were lost than in all of 1990.

This year is shaping up to be a bad one for workers with the number of job cuts nearly twofold higher than for the same three-month period last year, according to a report by outplacement-firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Unemployment claims

Worst months for US jobs
March 2001 - 162,867
January 2001 - 142,208
December 2000 - 133,713
January 1994 - 108,946
January 1993 - 103,217
December 1998 - 103,166
February 2001 - 101,731
Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas
The report notes that in March nearly 163,000 jobs were lost, higher than February's 101,731 and far greater than March 2000's cut of 56,000.

In addition, fresh data from the US government on Thursday morning confirmed that more people are looking for work.

The Department of Labour reported that initial claims for unemployment climbed 5% to 383,000 in the latest week.

Where's the queue?

However, long queues at state unemployment offices have yet to form.

Worst affected states
California
Michigan
Connecticut
Ohio
Illinois
Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas
The report said that even with job-cut figures surging, the nation's economy continues to offer its workers opportunities.

"The fact that [long queues are] not occurring is probably the most dramatic demonstration of the New Economy since the language came into vogue," the company said.

It noted that productivity gains among the nation's workers helped spur the nation's economy in the 1990s and are helping it weather the current economic storm.

More data

Investors keenly await Friday's Employment Report for March from the Labour Department.

Analysts expect the unemployment rate to rise slightly to 4.3% from the previous month's 4.2%.

Thursday's jump in weekly claims has boosted expectations that a rise in the overall monthly rate can be expected.

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See also:

06 Oct 00 | Business
US jobless at 30 year low
08 Dec 00 | Business
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14 Mar 01 | Business
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28 Feb 01 | Business
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