CHICAGO, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- For the third time in the year, job cuts announced by U.S. firms in July were lower than the same month from the previous year, a research firm said.
Outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray and Christmas said U.S. employers announced 36,855 layoffs in July, down from the 37,551 announced in June and down 45 percent from the 66,414 announced in July 2011.
For 2012, January through July, 319,946 layoffs have been announced, slightly more than the 312,220 announced January through July in 2011.
"The pace of downsizing is virtually even with a year ago," the firm said.
Financial firms led all job sectors in July with 6,156 job cuts announced.
The ongoing financial crisis in Europe has challenged U.S. banks, where layoffs, totaling 26,352 this year, are 79 percent higher than the first seven months of 2011.
For the year, however, the computer industry ranks first in job layoffs. The total number of job cuts announced for January through July is 35,006 which is 214 percent above the same seven months of 2011. The bulk of the 2012 layoffs in the computer industry, however, were announced by one firm, Hewlett-Packard, which said it had plans to cut 27,000 jobs.
In the transportation sector, there have been 29,965 job cuts announced this year, a 323 percent increase over January through July in 2011.
Retail is close behind transportation with 27,925 layoffs announced this year, 4,135 of them announced in July.
"While the decline in job cuts over the last two months is good news, it is not unusual to see these types of slowdowns during the summer months, when business activity of all types seems to lag as key decision makers tend to be out of the office more frequently," said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger in a statement.
"Employers may be in a pre-election holding pattern. Historically, the fourth quarter tends to be the heaviest job-cutting period of the year, so, this may simply be the lull before the storm," Challenger said.