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Economy in Brief

Challenger Layoffs Plunge
by Tom Moeller March 2, 2004

Announced job cuts fell 34.3% m/m in February to the lowest level since last September, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The three month moving average of job cut announcements fell to 95,942 (-20.8% y/y). During the last ten years there has been an 83% (inverse) correlation between the three month average level of announced job cuts and the y/y percent change payroll employment.

The decline in layoffs was widespread across industries. However, large m/m increases in job cut announcements were tallied in the automotive (-35.6% y/y), electronics (-67.4% y/y), health care (+628.4% y/y) and insurance (+171.1% y/y) industries.

Job cut announcements differ from layoffs. Many are achieved through attrition, early retirement or just never occur.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Feb Jan Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Announced Job Cuts 77,250 117,556 -44.1% 1,236,426 1,431,052 1,956,876
Chain Store Sales Nudge Higher
by Tom Moeller March 2, 2004

Chain store sales rose fractionally last week. That pulled sales for the near-completed month of February 2.0% above January, according to the ICSC-UBS survey.

During the last ten years there has been a 58% correlation between the year-to-year percent change in the ICSC-UBS measure of chain store sales and the change in non-auto retail sales less gasoline.

The ICSC-UBS retail chain-store sales index is constructed using the same-store sales reported by 78 stores of seven retailers: Dayton Hudson, Federated, Kmart, May, J.C. Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 02/28/04 02/21/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total Weekly Retail Chain Store Sales 438.1 437.9 7.9% 2.9% 3.6% 2.1%
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