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Reports say job loss in mid 700,000s

April 01 2009

Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NYSE: ADP) said today the U.S. lost 742,000 private-sector nonfarm jobs from February through March. In another estimate, Wanted Technologies Corp. said it believes the U.S. lost 752,000 nonfarm jobs in March. And a survey released today by CareerBuilder.com found employers are more concerned about keeping their current staff levels in the second quarter instead of hiring.

According to the ADP report, the total decline of 742,000 (on a seasonally adjusted basis) includes 415,000 jobs lost in the service sector from February to March and 327,000 jobs shed in the goods-producing sector. It was the 27th consecutive monthly decline for the goods-producing sector.

Many of the declines took place in small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the ADP report. Medium-sized firms shed 330,000 jobs, and small companies registered a decline in jobs of 248,000.

"The sharp employment declines among medium- and small-size businesses indicate that the recession continues to spread aggressively beyond manufacturing and housing-related activities to almost every area of the economy," according to ADP.

Large businesses shed 128,000 jobs, ADP reported.

The ADP report also revised up the number of jobs lost between January and February to 706,000 from 697,000 in the previous report.

In its announcement, Wanted said it expects the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will announce a loss of 752,000 jobs in March in its report on Friday, April 3. Wanted's forecast is based on data sources that include a weekly measurement of online job ads.

Separately, CareerBuilder.com's survey found that 14% of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter — down from 29% in the second quarter of 2008.

However, 64% of employers expect no change in full-time, permanent staff levels in the second quarter, according the CareerBuilder.com report. Fourteen percent expect a reduction in headcount, and 7% are undecided.

"We'll be looking for the market to stabilize over the next three to six months, when you'll hopefully see job losses below 100,000 and eventually closer to zero," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com. "Employers want to hold on to their talent and are taking measures to contain costs and bring in new revenue streams, so they can maintain their staff levels. Sixty-four percent of employers expect there will be no change in their number of full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter."

The CareerBuilder.com survey is based on a survey of 2,500 hiring managers and human resource professionals. Data in the ADP report is derived from an anonymous subset of roughly 500,000 U.S. business clients.

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