Pace of job cuts slows

Companies are still cutting jobs – as evidenced by Hewlett Packard’s announcement Tuesday that it would slash it’s global payroll by 9,000 workers over the next three years — but the pace of layoffs is slowing.

In a report released today, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. says layoffs have “returned to prerecession levels.”

That’s what passes for good news these days, but at least the economy continues to recover.

In May, U.S. employers said they planned to cut 38,810 jobs, the12th straight month when job cuts were lower than the same month in the previous year, according to the Challenger, Gray report.

“Announced job cuts have, for all intents and purposes, returned to prerecession levels. What makes the low job-cut totals we have seen this spring particularly remarkable is that we still have not reached what is the slowest downsizing period of the year, which typically occurs during the summer months,” CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement.

So far in 2010, announced job cuts totaled 258,319, down 69 percent from the first five months of 2009, according to Challenger, Gray.

The slowing pace of layoffs if nice, but hiring is what matters the most.

Manpower Inc. will release its third quarter projections later this month. In its second quarter Employment Outlook Survey, Manpower’s survey found that only 5 percent of employers planned to add jobs in the quarter and 73 percent planned to keep staffing levels steady.

Read the full Challenger, Gray report here.

Read Manpower’s 2Q survey here.