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US layoffs rise to 45,346 in July as cuts in energy sector spike

The pace of layoffs announced by U.S.-based companies rose for a second-straight month in July, as the energy patch once again shed thousands of workers.

Employers last month said they would cut 45,346 jobs, a 19 percent increase in planned payroll reductions from June, according to the report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The energy sector accounted for 17,725 of the job losses last month, bringing the industry's 2016 total to nearly 95,000, Challenger said Thursday. The layoffs include 1,000 cuts at ConocoPhillips, equal to 6 percent of the workforce at the world's largest independent oil and gas exploration and production company.

"Oil prices continue to be depressed. There are some signs that it's stabilizing. Not only oil prices, but rig development seems to be stabilizing," Challenger CEO John A. Challenger told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"So maybe we're starting to see the bottom there in energy, but those big oil companies — ConocoPhillips made a big cut this month, as well as the equipment companies like Halliburton — continue to cut jobs as they react to the real amount of business that they've got to handle."

The computer industry also continued to shed workers. The sector's 9,875 announced layoffs last month brought its 2016 total to 49,464. Last week, Microsoft said it would cut an additional 2,850 employees In May, it announced nearly 2,000 layoffs in its smartphone division.

"Computer is a volatile industry," Challenger said. "There are always winners and losers, so you see heavy cuts in that industry periodically."

On a year-over-year basis, U.S.-based firms handed out 57 percent fewer pink slips in July than during the same period last year, when cuts jumped to a four-year high due to a round of military personnel layoffs.

Layoffs are also lower year to date, down 8.7 percent from the January-to-July period last year.

The Challenger report comes a day before the Labor Department releases its July jobs data. On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP reported the United States added 179,000 positions last month.

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