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Layoffs fall to lowest level of 2016 — and only just above 16-year bottom, Challenger report shows

U.S.-based employers announced plans to cut 26,936 jobs in November, the lowest pace of the year, according to the monthly report released on Thursday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The November layoffs were 12 percent less than the reductions announced in October and were down 13 percent year over year. They were only slightly higher than the total in December 2015, which was the lowest since June 2000.

So far in 2016, American companies have announced 493,288 job cuts, a 5.5 percent decline from those recorded by this point in 2015.

The retail sector saw the heaviest job cutting in November, with 4,850 announced layoffs mostly from the bankruptcy of American Apparel. The retail losses are more than offset by the surge in holiday hiring.

Overall, retail layoffs were down about 12 percent from a year ago.

Sector layoffs year to date

But year-to-date retail job cuts rank third among all industries, behind computer and energy, with industrial goods and financials rounding out the top five sectors.

The states most affected were Texas, California, Arkansas, New York and Illinois.

State layoffs year-to-date

The Challenger report comes a day before the government's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report. Economists are expecting 173,000 total growth and 165,000 for private payrolls, according to FactSet. The unemployment rate is expected to stay unchanged at 4.9 percent.

On Wednesday, ADP and Moody's Analytics reported that private companies added a net 216,000 positions in November, far beyond the expected 165,000 jobs.