Merck pushes pharma to top jobs-cutter

Merck ($MRK) has almost single-handedly snatched the top spot for monthly job cuts from the U.S. government, ending a 7-month streak by the public-sector behemoth. U.S. job cuts overall jumped a frightening 60% in July. The retail sector joined pharma and the government in the top three.

Merck helped push pharma to the July job-cuts apex of 13,493; the drugmaker accounts for 13,000 of that total, resulting from its previously announced multi-year force reduction. No breakdown of manufacturing versus other types of pharma jobs was available.

By contrast, pharma's cousin, the chemical industry, dropped just one-tenth the number of jobs as pharma, making it the ninth largest jobs-cutter in July. The healthcare/products sector, which includes medical devices, occupies the sixth spot with 5,193 cuts.

"What may be most worrisome is that the heaviest layoffs occurred in industries that have enjoyed relatively low job-cut levels, including pharmaceuticals, computer and retail," says John Challenger, CEO, in the report.

Adding to the pharma darkness is last week's Bureau of Labor Statistics report that the U.S. economy added 117,000 jobs in July and that the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent to 9.1%. The unemployment drop, however, was driven by people leaving the labor force, so it's more representative of economic bad news that coincides with the good news of the added jobs.

Meanwhile, in India, pharma is hiring, according to the Economic Times. In fact, it's been seeing an upswing over the past four years with a growth of 13% to 17%.

- here's the CGC report
- here's the Economic Times article

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