Will You Lose Your Job in the Next 6 Months?

Study: 4 in 10 Bay Area firms will make cuts soon

A survey of Bay Area business executives is providing a bleak forecast for the area's economy.

A survey of 509 executives by the Bay Area Council found that four out of ten companies plan to cut jobs within six months.

Yahoo, Applied Materials and Sun Microsystems -- all Bay Area-based businesses -- have all announced layoffs recently.

Responses from executives at construction and retail companies indicated those two industries appear to be most likely to cut jobs. Sixty percent of construction firms and 50 percent of retailers said layoffs are likely during the next six months.

There were some bright spots in the report though. Thirteen percent of the companies surveyed said they plan to hire during the next six months, while 45 percent said they would keep the same employment levels.

The hardest hit industries are construction and retail. The hotel and tourist industries, on the other hand, have suffered the least.

Two percent were unsure of their hiring plans.

Also Thursday, the government said new national claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to a 16-year high, providing more evidence of a rapidly weakening labor market.

The Labor Department said new applications for jobless benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 542,000 from a downwardly revised figure of 515,000 in the previous week.

That's much higher than Wall Street economists' expectations of 505,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

That's also the highest level of claims since July 1992, the department said, when the U.S. economy was coming out of a recession.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to defy a veto threat, and vote as soon as this evening on a bill to extend jobless benefits.

The bill would give another seven weeks to people who have exhausted their coverage, and 13 weeks to people in states where unemployment is at least 6 percent. It's expected to cost about $6 billion.

The administration said it would be fiscally irresponsible to give extra benefits in states with low unemployment. The jobless rate is now 6.5 percent.

Backers of the bill said without the extension, 1.1 million people will have exhausted their unemployment insurance by the end of the year.

Lawmakers have two days at most to take final action before they adjourn for the year. The bill has already cleared the House. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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