March 9 (Reuters) – Layoffs by U.S. companies in January and February were the highest since 2009, with the technology sector accounting for more than a third of the more than 180,000 job cuts announced, a report showed on Thursday.
In February alone, layoffs in the U.S. were 77,770, more than five times higher than the 1[ads1]5,245 job cuts announced a year earlier, according to the report by employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 21,000 in the week ended March 4, the Labor Department said – the biggest increase in five months.
“Right now, the overwhelming bulk of cuts are happening in technology. Retail and financials are also cutting right now, as consumer spending matches economic conditions,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
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Technology companies from Microsoft Corp ( MSFT.O ) and Google parent Alphabet Inc ( GOOGL.O ) to PayPal Holdings ( PYPL.O ) have cut thousands of jobs this year in an effort to curb spending and protect margins amid an uncertain economic outlook .
“The layoffs that many of these companies are announcing are welcome for investors, in a way that properly adjusts the cost structure and rationalization of growth is rewarded in the market,” said James Tierney, chief investment officer at asset management firm Alliance Bernstein.
Shares of Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon.com Inc ( AMZN.O ) and Meta Platforms Inc ( META.O ) have risen between 6% and 54% so far this year, after falling between 29% and 64% in 2022.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reaffirmed his message on Wednesday of higher and potentially faster rate hikes, which could force companies to cut more jobs.
US firms announced plans to hire 28,830 workers in February, down 87% from 215,127 a year earlier, the report added.
Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath
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