Cutbacks in retail and the auto industry sent job reductions soaring to over 50,000 in May, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday.
The total of 51,692 in May was 41 percent higher than the 36,602 job cuts announced in April and 71 percent higher than in May 2016, when U.S.-based employers said they would lay off 30,157 workers.
Nearly 40 percent of the May cuts were announced by Ford Motor, Challenger said.
"Ford's announcement of 20,000 global layoffs to streamline and cut costs is a typical strategy of large corporations who need to pivot to stay competitive," John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, said Thursday morning. "As consumers demand electric and self-driving options, traditional automakers will need to adapt."
However, Ford told CNBC it never confirmed the 20,000 number with any media source and insisted the actual number of jobs eliminated was about 1,400.
Officials from the media organizations didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.