Planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell in December for the first time in four months, while the overall job-cut total in 2012 was the lowest since 1997, a report showed on Thursday.
Employers announced 32,556 job cuts last month, the second lowest monthly total of 2012 and down 43 percent from 57,081 in November, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In 2012, the only month with a lower job-cuts tally was August, with 32,239.
December's job cuts were also down 22 percent from the 41,785 seen a year ago.
During 2012, employers announced 523,362 cuts, down 14 percent from the 606,082 job cuts announced in 2011 and the lowest level since 1997 when employers announced 434,350 cuts.
"We saw a few spikes in monthly job cuts in 2012 and there were some significant mass layoffs that definitely reminded us that not every industry is enjoying the fruits of recovery. However, the overall pace of downsizing was at its slowest since the end of the recession," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.