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Job layoffs continue at slower pace

CHICAGO, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Job cuts in the United States hit a nearly two-year low in November, a private research group said Wednesday.

Announced layoffs in the month totaled 50,349, the lowest monthly total since 44,416 were announced in December 2007, the month the recession officially began, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-headquartered outplacement consultancy, said.

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Job cuts fell 9.6 percent from October, when 55,679 job cuts were announced, the firm said.

Job cuts slowed sharply in the second half of the year. In January through June, an average of 149,446 layoffs were announced each month. From July through November, the average month included 69,252 layoffs.

"Barring any unexpected shocks to the economy, we appear to be coming out of the woods when it comes to downsizing," Chief Executive Officer John Challenger said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the second half of the job-market equation -- hiring -- has not shown any signs of an imminent rebound," he said.

On the positive side, U.S. employers have hired an average of 4 million new workers per month in recent months, Challenger said. "In addition, there were about two-to-three million unfilled job openings as of the end of September," he said.

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