U.S. planned layoffs in Nov at almost 7-year high

NEW YORK Wed Dec 3, 2008 7:31am EST

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NEW YORK Dec 3 (Reuters) - Layoff plans at U.S. firms surged to their highest monthly level in nearly seven years during November, led by the financial and auto sectors, outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas said in a report released on Wednesday.

Job cuts announced in November totaled 181,671, up 61 percent from October and 148 percent higher than November 2007, when job cuts totaled 73,140.

The November planned layoffs was the largest monthly toll since January 2002, when employers announced a record 248,475 planned layoffs.

The most dramatic job cuts cited for November was Citigroup's plan to reduce its payroll by 52,000 employees. Overall, financial sector layoffs announced totaled 91,356 in November, the report said.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said that while the financial sector struggled and the automotive sector continued to see heavy job cuts, slower spending by consumers and businesses was causing layoffs in other sectors of the economy to climb as well.

Historically, the holiday spirit said to prevail in December has not kept the hand off the job chopping block, Challenger noted.

"Many employers make last-minute staffing adjustments to meet year-end earnings goals," he said. (Reporting by Ellen Freilich; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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