Jobs outlook seen weak as U.S. companies see need for cost cuts

‘Extremely Challenged’

“There’s going to be another round of 50,000 to 100,000 layoffs” in the securities industry, Whitney said in a Sept. 19 interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Sara Eisen. “Wall Street is just going to have an extremely challenged revenue environment” for the “foreseeable future.”

FedEx Corp., an economic bellwether because it ships goods from financial documents to electronics, pared its annual profit forecast last month on slowing demand and customers’ shift to cheaper delivery services. The Memphis, Tennessee-based company, which in August said it would offer workers voluntary buyouts as part of “significant” cost-reductions, will unveil details on more such moves next week.

Some companies’ own woes are prompting renewed expense control. Rochester, New York-based Kodak said on Sept. 28 it will eliminate at least 200 more jobs in 2012, on top of the 1,000 cuts it announced on Sept. 10, as the bankrupt photography pioneer shrinks into a commercial-printing-focused business. That follows a global reduction of 2,700 this year.

Protect Margins

“Companies are trying to protect profit margins as best they can, so they’ll be very guarded” in hiring and capital expenditures, said Michael Mullaney, who helps manage $9.5 billion as chief investment officer of Fiduciary Trust Co. in Boston. That’s why he has picked Colgate-Palmolive Co., the world’s largest toothpaste maker, and other stocks in “classic defensive sectors” such as health care and consumer staples.

Small companies are responsible for most of the hiring even as big businesses shed jobs, said Lieberman of Advisors Capital, adding that his firm took on a few people this year without issuing a press release. “The big corporate layoffs always make the news,” he said.

Toya Coverson, 35, of Atlanta, lost her $11.50-an-hour position two months ago as a security guard and now is more concerned after hearing of business cutbacks, she said.

“It means there are more people looking for work and not that many jobs,” said Coverson, who hasn’t had an interview though she’s applied for about 20 openings. “There is going to be fierce competition.”

Bloomberg News

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