CHICAGO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. layoff announcements dropped in December, giving 2012 the lowest annual total since 1997, a private outplacement firm said Thursday.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas said there were 523,362 job cuts announced during the year, the lowest in 15 years, when 434,350 job cuts were announced.
The firm said there were 32,556 layoffs announced in December, the second lowest monthly total for the year.
The relatively low total follows November's 57,081 layoffs announcements, which was the second highest monthly total for 2012.
In December, announced job cuts dropped 43 percent from month to month, falling after three consecutive months of increases. The month's total was also 22 percent lower than the same month of 2011.
"The overall pace of downsizing was at its slowest since the end of the recession. In fact, we have not seen this level of job cutting since before the dot.com collapse and subsequent 2001 recession," said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.
December's figure was bumped up considerably by one firm, Citigroup, which announced it would cut 11,000 jobs.
For the year, the computer industry cut the most jobs of any industry sector with 46,164 job cuts announced, but that figure was also skewed by one employer, Hewlett-Packard which said in May it would cut 27,000 jobs.