NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell in June to its lowest level in over a year, suggesting employers were not rapidly downsizing even as the economic recovery slows, a report on Thursday showed.
Employers announced 37,551 planned job cuts last month, down 39.3 percent from 61,887 in May, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Job cuts were also down 9.4 percent from June last year when 41,432 reductions were announced. Layoffs were at their lowest level since May 2011.
Despite recent signs that the economic recovery is losing steam, employers appear reluctant to shed too many workers, John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.
“While it does not take long to shrink payrolls, it can take a significant amount of time to rebuild them, particularly as reports of a growing skills gap become more widespread,” he said.
For 2012 so far, employers have announced 283,091 cuts, up 15.2 percent from the first six months of 2011.
Even with the increase, the number of job cuts in the first half of the year was still relatively low. In 2008 and 2009 during the height of the financial crisis, first-half job cuts stood at 475,948 and 896,675, respectively.
A contraction in manufacturing activity in June did not lead to increased layoffs, with job cuts decreasing in the four major manufacturing industries tracked by Challenger.
June’s heaviest job cuts were in the education sector with 6,569 layoffs, well up from the 3,536 announced in May.
The report comes a day ahead of the key U.S. jobs report, which is forecast to show hiring rose in June but was still anemic at 90,000 new jobs. [ID:nL2E8I38JA]
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama