NEW YORK (CNNfn) - While the economy may be booming, a study released Wednesday said American corporations are planning to cut jobs at a pace nearly 40 percent higher than last year.
After 57,253 job cuts in August, the outplacement specialist firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said Americans employers have announced 495,510 job cuts in 1999, 38 percent higher than the eight-month total in 1998, the biggest downsizing year of the decade.
The August figure was 5 percent higher than July's total of 54,709 and last month was 54 percent higher than August 1998, making it the 17th consecutive month that job cuts were ahead of the same month in the previous year.
August was also the 12th consecutive month that job-cut announcements were greater than 50,000. If the eight-month average of 61,939 job cuts per month continues, the report said, this year will surpass 1998 as the worst downsizing year of the decade.
"It has become apparent that U.S. companies are deciding that the best way to keep profits in line is to cut jobs at the first sign of weakness in any of their product lines," John Challenger, the firm's chief executive officer, said in a statement.
"Even in this runaway economy that has some factories running 24 hours," Challenger continued, "employers are still able to find areas that can be trimmed or eliminated altogether."
Wholesale inventories rise
Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that wholesale inventories were $293.9 billion at the end of July, up 0.9 percent from June, the largest gain since a matching figure in September 1998. Analysts had expected an increase of 0.6 percent.
The inventory-to-sales ratio, which measures how long it would take to deplete stocks totally at the current sales pace, was 1.29 months, compared to 1.32 in July 1998.
Wholesale sales of durable goods rose 0.1 percent in July helped by a 3.5 percent gain in furniture sales and a 2.4 percent rise in automobile sales. Sales of nondurables were 0.7 percent weaker in July dragged down by a 4.4 percent dip in farm-product sales, a 2.8 percent fall in apparel sales and a 2.3 percent decline alcohol sales.
--from staff and wire reports