Announced layoffs rose in February

March 2, 2011 at 1:26 PM

CHICAGO, March 2 (UPI) -- Announced layoffs in the United States in February rose 32 percent compared to January, consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Wednesday.

The firm said employers announced 50,702 job cuts in the month, 20 percent higher than the 42,090 layoffs announced in February 2010.

"Despite the February surge, the pace of job cutting remains relatively subdued," the firm said in a statement.

For the first two months of the year, 89,211 job cuts have been announced, 21 percent lower than the first two months a year ago.

January's announced cuts were the lowest for a January since 1993, when the firm first began tracking the data.

"It is too soon to say whether the increases in January and now February represent a trend. Certainly the specter of rising gas prices could impact employers' staffing decisions over the next six months," said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.

"At the very least, rising energy costs could force employers to postpone hiring plans," he said. "At worse, increased costs could kill a fragile recovery and spur another round of layoffs."

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