Planned layoffs in U.S. rose for second month in a row in February: Challenger

Financial sector cut the most employees in over 1 year

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Planned layoffs at companies in the United States rose for the second month in a row in February as the financial sector cut the most employees in over one year, according to a report.

Employers announced 55,356 planned job cuts last month, up nearly 37 per cent from 40,430 in January, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

February's job cuts were seven per cent higher than the 51,728 job cuts announced the year before. For 2013 so far, employers have announced 95,786 layoffs, down nine per cent from the first two months of 2012.

The financial sector dominated cuts last month, with firms announcing 21,724 layoffs, the most since September 2011. That was nearly three times the amount of job losses announced in January.

Although there have yet to be any job cuts related to the $85 billion in government spending cuts known as the sequester, sectors including aerospace, defense, government and education are likely to see increased layoffs, said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Also at risk are companies where the government is a major customer, such as technology, construction and transportation firms, Challenger said.

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