Watching the ebb and flow of weekly jobless claims offers a high-altitude, fairly antiseptic view of what’s happening with layoffs nationally, but if you want to get a little dirt under your fingernails, go browse through state WARN notices.
WARN is short for Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, set up to give workers and unemployment agencies early warning of business closings and layoffs. The act requires notice (timing varies between states) prior to plant closings, mass layoffs, relocations or in some cases reduced work hours. East Shore Partners’ market strategist Joan McCullough wrote about the these notices (available on states’ department of labor websites) a couple months ago, and since then we’ve been keeping a casual eye on New Jersey and New York.
The national seasonally adjusted weekly claims data have improved, which is naturally welcome, and WARN notices don’t necessarily contradict that trend. But they do offer a more ground-level view of the layoff picture, particularly when you read names of places you might recognize and the number of workers being affected.
In February, WARN notices in New Jersey affect more than 1,600 workers, including 992 associated with grocery store closings due to A&P’s bankruptcy. In January, NJ WARN notices affected 986 workers. Look at the names and connect the dots. Grocery Haulers Inc of Avenel canned 329, likely fallout from A&P’s Chapter 11. Sony Music will cut 300 jobs, effective March 18, in Pitman, NJ, one of the company’s major manufacturing facilities. Good bet that they make music CDs there. Anybody buy those things anymore?
One WARN notice in New York today from Level Global Investors, a hedge fund that decided earlier this month to shut down after an FBI raid amid a wide investigation into insider trading; 57 affected, 35 to be laid off May 12. Another notice today looks to be one driven by state or city budget cuts. It’s an outfit called Research Foundation, The City University of NY; 37 gone by end of June.
Out at JFK airport, Aramark Transportation Services last week notified 245 plane cabin cleaners that they’ll be out of work by late May, and another 93 are being cut loose at LaGuardia. Perhaps with airlines keeping a lid on capacity, there’s less need for cabin cleaners. Or, with fuel prices running higher, maybe airlines are simply cutting corners on cabin cleanliness where they can.
Just a few examples of some of latest jobs still being jettisoned as the labor market “recovers.” Eager to see how many jobs were added this month in Friday’s NFP report. Consensus currently looking for about 192,000, with a lot of snap-back no doubt expected after January’s weak number, widely blamed on weather.