Job growth slows in private sector

Government employment figures released Friday showed a steady 4 percent unemployment rate for December and just a modest rise in the number of workers on payrolls (105,000 new non-farm jobs).

But more than half that growth was accounted for by growth in the government sector, according to the Labor Department, which also reported that the manufacturing sector showed heavy losses.

Overall, private-sector firms last month announced plans to cut 133,713 jobs, making December the biggest job-cut month in more than eight years, according to international outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Some analysts cite such looming job losses as one factor behind the Federal Reserve Board's move to cut interest rates earlier last week.

The retail sector accounted for the most planned cuts (30 percent), says Challenger, citing the closing of Montgomery Ward, lackluster holiday sales, and a two-year low in consumer confidence. Other industries leading in announced layoffs: automotive and financial. Dotcoms accounted for 8 percent of the month's total cuts.

Despite the cruel December, the year 2000 job-cut total of 613,960 was 9 percent below that of 1999 (675,132). December is historically the biggest month for job cuts, says Challenger.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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