- Reported job losses in February 2009: 598
- Cumulative reported media job losses since 1st July 2008: 4921
If you’re an optimistic sort, you’ll find a few tiny positives in February’s numbers for reported job losses in the media. (The underlying data is here.)
After the nasty rush of redundancies that occurred last autumn, the rate at which UK media companies are shedding jobs seems to have plateaued – for now. During the past three months, the number of jobs reportedly shed by media companies has remained fairly constant: between 400 and 600 per month.
It’s possible that the big media companies have exhausted the first-stage plans for cutting costs that started to seem necessary last summer (as the economy slowed) and which became inevitable in October (when advertising volumes fell off a cliff).
These plans, I suspect, were mostly devised to reduce costs in time for the start of the new financial year (which for most companies, occurs in either January or April).
February even brought two rare bits of good news. First, there was the lower-than-expected redundancy toll –- only 65 job losses — at News International (something I anticipated here).
Another tiny ray of hope emanated from Staffordshire, where where Iliffe News & Media announced plans to make redundant 15 editorial staff in November. By mid-February, however, the company seemed content to accept 11 voluntary redundancies.
By contrast, Kent Messenger Group was responsible for February’s most dramatic announcement (150 jobs). This comes on top of 59 job losses announced in November.
KMG’s announcement is notable for another reason. The rule of thumb I generally use is that a 15% headcount cut is the maximum for any company that wants to keep its business processes basically intact.
Since November, however, KMG has announced that it will reduce its workforce by 34%.
This is a staggering number. It looks all the more remarkable, I suspect, because bigger rivals like Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Newsquest have been announcing job losses on a piecemeal and regionalised basis.