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US job cuts jump 17 percent in March, but the total is lower than last year: Challenger report

People walk along Wall Street in New York.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. employers announced plans in March to cut 43,310 jobs, a 17 percent increase from February, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday.

Despite the monthly the rise, the number was 2 percent lower than the total in March 2016. So far this year, employers have announced 126,201 job cuts, 30 percent lower during the first three months of 2016.

"The heaviest cuts were in Texas and Ohio in the month ... 17,000 each in those two places," Challenger CEO John A. Challenger said on "Squawk Box."

Retail had the most job losses in the first quarter, with 38,464 announced cuts, including 4,084 in March. Despite the cuts, the sector has announced over 121,000 new jobs this year, the report said.

"Retail is typically an industry in flux, but we've seen long established companies close stores and cut workers. The industry, though, is creating openings just as quickly as they are cutting," Challenger said in the report.

Telecommunications companies followed retailers with 9,782 job cuts in the quarter. The sector announced 7,768 job cuts in March, versus 1,264 in March 2016.

The energy sector had 1,950 job cuts in March, compared with 3,747 last year. Through the first quarter, the sector has announced 7,880 job cuts, 84 percent lower than the 48,901 cuts announced in the period in 2016.

The Challenger numbers came a day after ADP and Moody's Analytics said companies added 263,000 jobs in March, well above the 185,000 expected from economists surveyed by Reuters.

On Friday, the Labor Department releases its closely watched monthly employment report.