CHICAGO, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Job cuts announced by U.S. employers in 2013 came to the lowest total since 1997, a private outplacement firm said Thursday.
With December layoff announcements totaling 30,623, a low for the year, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said the year's total came to 509,051, a drop from the 2012 tally of 523,362 and the lowest annual figure in 16 years.
Layoff announcements in December were 32 percent lower than November's 45,314. The peak for 2013 came in February with 55,356 job cuts announced, followed by August with 50,462 and March with 49,255.
For the full year, the total came in 3 percent lower than 2012.
"It could be the spirit of the holiday season that is prompting employers to hold off on announcing job layoff plans, but it is more likely to be the result of increased confidence heading into each new year," Chief Executive Officer John Challenger said about a five-year trend of December job cuts coming in below the year's average.
For the year, financial firms announced 60,962 job cuts, a sharp increase from 41,008 in 2012. Healthcare firms announced 52,637 cuts, also a significant spike from 2012, when the sector announced the loss of 36,212 jobs.
Retail firms also reported job cuts were up in 2013, with 49,299 layoff notices compared with 32,868 in 2012.
Among the top five industries announcing layoffs, computer firms were the exception, announcing fewer layoffs than 2012 with 35,136 compared to 46,164.
New York set the pace for layoffs in 2013 with 82,952, followed by California (59,535), Illinois (43,431), Texas (32,327) and Pennsylvania (25,193).