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Layoff announcements fall in month

CHICAGO, March 30 (UPI) -- Announced layoffs in the United States in March fell 18 percent month-to-month despite a rise in public sector layoffs, a consulting firm said Wednesday.

Labor market researchers Challenger, Gray & Christmas said a total of 41,528 job cuts were announced in the month, down 18 percent from 50,702 announced in February.

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But cuts in government jobs rose to the highest level in 12 months. Public sector layoff announcements rose to 19,099, comprising 46 percent of the month's layoffs.

Non-profit businesses led the public sector layoff figures with a 17 percent increase.

In the month, 16,380 non-profit business layoffs were announced, a sizable drop from the peak of 50,604 for this sector, which occurred in March 2010.

"If there is any silver lining in the government layoff figures, it is that they are down significantly from a year ago," the Chicago-headquartered firm said. Government layoffs are down 62 percent from 12 months earlier, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

The firm also said government layoffs would likely escalate.

"Despite the decline from last year, it is difficult to be optimistic about the outlook for government workers. Most cities and states have only just begun to address their massive budget deficits and we have yet to see how budget cutbacks are going to impact workers at the federal level," said Rick Cobb, executive vice president of the firm.

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Government layoffs may also prove to be the straw that breaks the camel's back regarding Friday's employment report released by the Labor Department. Automatic Data Processing Inc. said Wednesday that 201,000 jobs were added to the economy February to March, but that report concerns only private sector jobs. The government's report includes both private and public sector jobs.

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