The number of announced layoffs by U.S.-based companies rose in September to the highest level in two months, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday.
Employers announced plans to cut 44,324 jobs last month, a 38 percent increase from August, when total job cuts of 32,2188 fell to lowest total since May.
September's was the highest monthly total since July, when 45,346 layoffs were announced, Challenger said. Despite the monthly rise, September's total was 25 percent below the announced job cuts a year ago.
The biggest job cutter last month was the education sector, rising by 363 percent to 8,671. Fueling the cuts was the collapse of for-profit college ITT Technical Institute, which sustained 8,000 job losses.
Cuts in the computer industry in September totaled 4,152 jobs. The sector's year-to-date layoffs were second only to the energy sector, which announced 98,733 cuts for the nine-month period.
"This year could be particularly volatile in the fourth quarter, with employers holding off on significant moves until they see election results. It's not simply who wins the White House, but there are Senate races and countless ballot initiatives on issues like minimum wages that will influence business strategies going forward," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The retail sector was hit with 7,296 cuts, but will be offset by seasonal hiring, which promises 230,000 new jobs looking forward to December's holiday season.
The announced job cuts in September brought the total for the year to 435,612 — 12 percent below the same nine-month period last year.
The report comes a day after ADP and Moody's Analytics reported that companies in September created jobs at the slowest pace in six months.
On Friday, the Labor Department issues its closely watched nonfarm payrolls report for September. Economists expect a gain of 170,000 jobs.