U.S. planned layoffs rise in January, so do hiring plans: Challenger

Financial, retail sectors lost most workers

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The number of planned layoffs at United States firms rose in the first month of the year, but that was more than offset by an increase in plans to hire, according to a new report showed.

Employers announced 40,430 job cuts this month, up 24.2 per cent from 32,556 in December, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

But January's job cuts were down almost the same amount from the same time one year ago, declining 24.4 per cent from 53,486 in January 2012. It was the third lowest number of January layoffs recorded by Challenger going back to 1993.

"The relatively low job-cut totals we have seen for the last couple of months indicate that employers do not foresee a prolonged decline in economic activity," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The financial and retail sectors lost the most workers. Financial firms cut 8,578 workers, while retail companies dropped 6,676 jobs.

But at the same time, the retail industry announced plans to hire 54,000 employees. Overall hiring announcements climbed to 60,585 from 16,266 in December. Such announced plans account for only a small fraction of actual hiring in the economy, the survey said.

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