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Lowest job cuts in 15 years

There were fewer layoffs nationwide in December than in all but one month in 2012, and total job cuts last year were the lowest in 15 years, a Chicago-based consulting company said Thursday.

The same trend is evident in Ohio, where total employment is slowly growing, state figures show.

The number of planned job cuts announced in December plunged 43 percent from November to 32,556, said Challenger, Gray & Christmas in a report released Thursday. That’s down 22 percent from December 2011, the firm said.

Job cuts for all of 2012 fell 14 percent from 2011 to 523,362, the lowest since 1997, the firm said.

“We saw a few spikes in monthly job cuts in 2012 and there were some significant mass layoffs that definitely reminded us that not every industry is enjoying the fruits of recovery. However, the overall pace of downsizing was at its slowest since the end of the recession. In fact, we have not seen this level of job cutting since before the collapse and subsequent 2001 recession,” John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a statement.

A big mass layoff occurred in December when banking giant Citigroup announced 11,000 job cuts.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has figures available through the third quarter of last year, and those figures show layoffs involving 50 or more employees at the same worksite are falling.

In July through September, Ohio posted 35 mass layoffs resulting in 4,408 jobs lost. In the third quarter in 2011, there were 36 mass layoffs totaling 5,104 jobs. In third quarter 2009 — close to the peak of state unemployment in 2009 — there were 75 mass layoffs involving 12,760 jobs.

The most recent local single site mass layoff on file is November’s announcement by Systemax Manufacturing in Fletcher, Miami County, that it would let go 86 employees.

While the trend can be considered encouraging, the state has a long way to go to reach pre-recession employment levels.

Ohio’s total non-agricultural employment stands at 5,197,500, not seasonally adjusted, according to November figures, the latest available. In pre-recession November 2007, it was 5,425,400. In November 2000, it was 5,618,800.

The Dayton metro area’s total employment was 379,200 in November, up slightly from 378,400 last year at the same time, but still below 401,200 in 2007.

Dayton’s metro area includes Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Greene counties.

“The numbers don’t tell you everything, but they are useful,” said state jobs department spokesman Ben Johnson. “Ohio’s economy was in really bad shape in the recession and aftermath, but it’s been improving. The state has in the past two years has been adding jobs, not necessarily every month, but on an annual basis.”

Johnson added: “There are an awful lot of people looking for work and there’s progress to be made. We are seeing a positive trend and slow recovery.”

Meanwhile, payroll processor ADP said Thursday employers added 215,000 jobs in December. That’s more than November’s total of 148,000, which was revised higher.

The survey showed companies added 39,000 construction jobs last month, partly in response to Hurricane Sandy but also an indication of the housing recovery under way.

ADP’s figures have diverged at times from the government’s more comprehensive jobs report, which will be released today. Most economists predict that report will show employers added roughly 150,000 jobs last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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