Planned layoffs in U.S. jump to 5-month high in October: Report

Majority of layoffs in automotive industry

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The number of planned layoffs by firms in the United States jumped 41.1 per cent in October to the highest level in five months, although the number includes more than 10,000 jobs in U.S.-owned auto plants in Europe, a report said.

Employers announced 47,724 planned job cuts last month, up from September's 33,816, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It was the highest level since May.

U.S. automotive companies said they will let go of 11,615 workers, though that includes 10,900 Ford layoffs that will affect workers in Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The planned layoffs were modestly higher than the 42,759 announced in October last year. The total for the year so far stands at 433,725, down from 521,823 for the same period in 2011.

"While the Ford job cuts are not impacting American workers, they indicate just how vulnerable companies in the U.S. are to the situation in Europe," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The last three months of the year tend to see heavier lay-off activity and the weak third-quarter earnings season does not bode well, Challenger said.

The consumer products industry announced 5,250 cuts, while electronics companies laid off 4,491 workers as the sectors were hurt by a slowdown in consumer and business spending.

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