Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Economic forecasters say more layoffs likely

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Kentucky could see a flood of layoffs this year in the wake of Wall Street's recent downturn, economic forecasters said.

        The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the state had nine large layoffs in January alone, affecting 1,100 workers.

        Nationwide, companies announced more than 377,000 planned job cuts from December to February, more than double the number announced in the same period a year ago, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international outplacement firm in New York that tracks job-cut announcements.

        Paul Bauer, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said Kentucky stands to take a bigger economic hit than other states because of its disproportionate number of manufacturing jobs, especially in the auto industry.

        But a few local staffing and headhunting firms say companies are expecting to bounce back later this spring, even though some are reporting an increase in the number of laid-off workers enlisting their services for job searches.

        “Everybody's eyeing what's going on with the stock market, and they're being overly cautious right now and cutting back to prepare for the worse,” said Guy Huguelet, president of Adecco of Central Kentucky, a regional staffing firm with offices in Lexington.

        “But what's happening on Wall Street isn't necessarily what's happening on Main Street, and we've got a lot of companies that are doing well despite the gloomy picture the stock market and the media are painting.”

        The outlook for Kentucky is also brightened by an anticipated increase in service jobs and new manufacturing jobs, as well as by relatively low unemployment rates.

        The University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research says cuts in manufacturing jobs will be balanced by increases in construction, business services, health care, retail and government jobs.


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