U.S. firms cut fewer jobs in third quarter amid holiday ramp-up

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U.S. companies announced the fewest quarterly job cuts in a year amid strong seasonal hiring plans, a tentative sign that the layoff wave that had gripped the job market might be subsiding.

Job cuts totaled 146,305 in the third quarter, down 22% from the April-to-June period, according to a monthly report published Thursday by the executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Companies announced plans to fill 552,800 seasonal positions in September, up 54% from the same month last year.

Announced job cuts in the technology sector—the epicenter of the layoff wave of the past year—fell in September to the lowest level since June 2022.

The report adds to evidence that the U.S. labor market remains resilient even in the face of aggressive Federal Reserve interest-rate increases, though it also comes as various datasets increasingly send conflicting signals.

Weekly initial filings for unemployment insurance have returned to near the lowest levels of the expansion so far after an uptick earlier in the year, suggesting companies are hanging onto workers. But a monthly report on private-sector employment published Wednesday by ADP Research Institute revealed the slowest pace of hiring in September since the beginning of 2021.

“Employers are grappling with inflation, rate increases, labor issues and consumer demand” as they enter the fourth quarter, said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of the firm.

The report also noted companies cited artificial intelligence as the motivation for 3,997 cuts so far in 2023.

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