January job cuts, led by retail, rise from year-ago low

BY KEN TYSIAC

Job cuts announced by U.S. employers increased in January, a month that traditionally sees significant post-holiday retail layoffs, according to a report released Thursday.

The 53,486 job cuts announced last month was the highest monthly total since 115,730 layoffs were announced in September, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported.

The January 2012 total was 39% more than the 38,519 planned cuts that were announced in January 2011, which was the lowest January total on record. The cuts for January 2012 were mild compared to the average for January, which historically is the heaviest job-cut month, as employers release workers who were hired to help during the busy holiday season. From 1993 to 2011, January has averaged 101,084 announced job cuts.

Last month’s total was 28% higher than the 41,785 announced cuts in December.

Retailers accounted for the largest portion, with 12,426 announced layoffs. Among more than 25 industries in the report, financial firms ranked second to retailers with 7,611 announced cuts. That marked the highest number of announced layoffs in the financial sector since September, when a massive layoff by Bank of America accounted for 30,000 of the 31,167 announced cuts in that sector.

Ken Tysiac ( ktysiac@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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