Two things -- managers' caution about additional hiring and their discipline in limiting fixed costs during 1991 through 1993 -- have put the securities industry in "much better shape" to handle a downturn than it has been in previous years, according to the Securities Industry Association.

"Unlike past cycles ... [announced] layoffs are more focused and considerably more modest," said Jeffrey M. Schaefer, senior vice president of research for the association.

Pending unusual news, any additional layoffs are expected to be modest, Schaefer said.

Employment among New York Stock Exchange member firms peaked in the third quarter of 1987, before the October crash, at about 262,000 employees. Industry jobs then declined continuously through yearend 1990, to about 210,000.

As the industry bounced back in the 1991-93 period, employment began to grow, reaching about244,000 at yearend 1993, about equal to the level at yearend 1986.

Although there was some hiring in the first quarter of 1994, employment in the industry stalled in the second quarter "followed by news of actual terminations in July," Schaefer said.

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