The number of job cuts announced by employers fell 3.3 percent in February from the previous month, led by consumer products and transportation, according to the latest report by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Employers last month said they planned to cut 51,728 jobs, down from 53,486 job cuts announced in January.
The February job cuts were 2 percent higher than the same period last year, when employers said they planned 50,702 cuts.
Layoffs were concentrated in the consumer products and transportation sectors in January and February. Last year, job cuts in the first two months of the year were dominated by the government sector.
Consumer products firms announced 16,320 job this year, up from the 3,621 reported a year ago. The transportation sector reported 15,835 layoffs so far in 2012, up from 2,211 a year earlier. The two sectors accounted for 30.6 percent of the year-to-date total, the survey said.
“While, the decline in government job cuts is certainly promising, surging job cuts in consumer products and transportation are particularly worrisome. These are strong indicators of economic health, especially as it relates to consumer spending,” John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement. “Both sectors are undoubtedly feeling the impact of rising fuel prices as heavy users of fuel, but also from their dependency on consumers, who are being forced to spend more on gasoline and less on the products and services provided by these firms.”