U.S. planned layoffs edge up in September-Challenger

NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose slightly in September, though it was the second lowest level of the year, a report on Wednesday said.

Employers announced 37,151 planned job cuts last month, up seven percent from the 34,768 job cuts reported in August, according to the report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“The low job-cut numbers we are seeing in almost every sector do not necessarily translate into increased hiring,” John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

“There is hiring going on in the economy, but it is not enough make a discernible dent in the number of unemployed,” he said.

The September job-cut figure was down from a year ago, when the report found 66,404 planned layoffs.

Overall, employers announced 411,272 job cuts so far this year, which was 64 percent below the 1,136,908 layoffs announced by this point in 2009.

The government and non-profit sector, which announced 11,091 job cuts during the month, have continued to struggle. The pharmaceutical sector, which has announced 43,334 cuts this year, including 6,069 in September, was responsible for the next biggest overall job cuts.

“Government employers ... are typically big contributors to job creation, not only through their own hiring, but also by purchasing goods and services from the private sector,” said Challenger. “Unfortunately, this massive part of the economic engine simply is not firing on all pistons.”

“Employers in the private sector have the cash to spend on new equipment and employees, but are waiting for demand to increase enough to warrant the investment,” he said.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Andrew Hay