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Sears Tops January Layoff List in Gloomy Start to 1993

February 2, 1993 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sears topped all companies in layoff announcements in January, and more than 100,000 job cuts were disclosed in a sour start to the new year, according to a list published Monday.

Companies announced job cuts at a rate of 5,161per business day - or a total of 103,217 for the month - according to the Challenger Employment Report, issued by Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based employment consulting firm.

Sears Roebuck & Co.’s 50,000 layoffs stemmed from its decision to stop publishing its Big Book catalog and close its catalog store operations.

Sears was the only major retailer announcing layoffs during the month, but the high number put the retail industry at the top of the layoff list, said Challenger Gray.

Aerospace planned to shed the second highest number of workers, 36,200, most at Boeing Co., United Technologies Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. IBM dropped 3,000 people from its payroll last month.

Despite recent signs the economy is picking up, layoff announcements accelerated in January as companies tightened their belts in anticipation of shrinking business and profits this year, said James Challenger, the firm’s president.

″Many firms which had lost touch with their changing markets are having change forced on them through manpower attrition,″ he said, adding that companies are reevaluating ″their entire personnel function.″

Challenger said it was likely that layoffs would continue ″as employers search for answers.″

January was the first month that Challenger Gray compiled the list.

A total of 28 firms appeared on the list. The 10 largest expected layoffs were at Sears, 50,000; Boeing, 15,000; United Technologies, 10,600; McDonnell Douglas, 8,700; IBM, 3,000; United Airlines, 2,800; Alliant, 1,700; Vought Aircraft Co., 1,500; Armco Steel, 1,400; ITT Corp., 1,400; Northwest Airlines, 1,043.

While Boeing hasn’t specified how many jobs it would cut, analysts estimate the aerospace manufacturer will reduce its workforce by 10,000 to 20,000 in 1993-94.