Study finds layoffs likely to continue

July 17, 1994|By Chicago Tribune

Is there any end to the layoffs that plague the U.S. worker?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, based on a study of firings at 150 of the nation's largest companies in the first quarter of 1994.

The study was made by Workplace America, a national publication based in Greenwich, Conn., that focuses on workplace issues and trends. The results: There were 135,000 layoffs in January, February and March of this year, an average of more than 2,000 for each working day.

Layoffs for the first quarter of 1994 were 15,000 more than those for October, November and December of 1993.

"Going back to the 1980s, the early cutbacks were directly due to the recession," said Christopher W. Hunt, editor-in-chief of Workplace America and president of Hunt-Scanlon Publishing Co. Inc. "Today, businesses are restructuring their companies and are cutting back in terms of how many employees they actually need."

In particular, Mr. Hunt said, "large companies will continue to eliminate layers and layers of management that traditionally have been in place but which, in fact, they don't need."

Just last week, for example, Digital Equipment Corp. announced that it would slash 20,000 jobs over the next 12 months.

Mr. Hunt predicted that layoffs would continue in the near future, due to the need for companies to cut overhead and speed decision-making, mergers that cause overlap of positions, and the proliferation of new technology.

The telecommunications industry, according to Mr. Hunt's survey, had the most layoffs. With 68,300 announced firings in the first quarter at six major companies, the industry represents half of all layoffs for that period.

Other industries with substantial layoffs include financial services, consumer products and electronics.

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