CHICAGO, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Job cuts in November fell to their lowest monthly total since the U.S. economy fell into recession in December 2007, a private research group said Tuesday.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international outplacement consultancy headquartered in Chicago, said announced layoffs totaled 50,349 in November.
In the first six months of 2009, job losses averaged 130,000 per month with the peak coming in January with 241,729.
Although showing improvement, "unfortunately, the recovery process is slow, so it could be several months or even years before unemployment returns to pre-recession levels," Chief Executive Officer John Challenger said in a statement.
The U.S. unemployment rate is at 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October, but Challenger said increased hiring will prompt many unemployed workers no longer counted as unemployed to begin searching for jobs again. This will put them back onto official lists of unemployed workers, which will slow improvements in the unemployment rate even as jobs are added to the economy.
In November, 15.4 million U.S. workers were unemployed, more than double the 7.2 million unemployed just before the recession hit. An additional 6 million -- 1.8 million more than two years ago -- are not counted as unemployed, as they have not looked for work for four weeks.