US layoffs hit five-month low of 30,157 in May: Challenger

Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

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U.S.-based employers announced in May the fewest layoffs in five months as job cutting fell significantly across several sectors, according to a private survey released Thursday.

Planned payroll reductions totaled 30,157 last month, marking a 27 percent decline from the year ago period and the lowest total since December, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"May could be the start of a summer slowdown in the pace of job cutting as companies take a pause following the period of heavy downsizing that started the year," CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement.

Companies typically reduce the pace of layoffs in the summer as managers assess strategies initiated in the first quarter, and as they go on vacation, Challenger noted.

The energy sector continued to be the biggest job cutter, though layoffs in May fell 60 percent from April to 7,572.

For the year, the sector has handed out 75,232 pink slips, 25 percent more than during the same period last year.

The computer industry also slowed the pace of downsizing last month to 2,836 from 17,015 in April.

The financial sector announced 68 percent fewer cuts in May, while retailers planned 75 percent fewer layoffs.

The Challenger report comes a day before the Labor Department releases its May jobs data. ADP and Moody's Analytics report private payrolls at 8:15 a.m. ET Thursday, one day later than usual due to the Memorial Day weekend.