CHICAGO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. layoff announcements were relatively muted in January, a private outplacement firm said Thursday.
The job cuts total was 24 percent higher than December 2012, but 24 percent lower than January 2012, the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.
There were 32,556 announced job cuts in December and 40,430 in January. December's figure gave 2012 the lowest total since 1997.
January's total is the third lowest for the first month of the year since 1993, when the firm began keeping records, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a statement.
In January, financial and retail companies posted the most layoffs with 8,578 and 6,676 job cuts announced, respectively. For the financial sector that was a slight rise from January 2012, but for retailers it was a 46 percent decline from the first month last year.
Chief Executive Officer John Challenger said the relatively low layoff numbers indicate "that employers do not foresee a prolonged decline in economic activity."
"In fact, recent data showing increased consumer spending ... suggest that the economy is heading upward in the early part of the new year," Challenger said.