WASHINGTON - There were 36,855 layoff intentions announced in July, down from 37,551 in June and from the 66,414 job cuts announced in July 2011, job placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. said in a report released Thursday. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

Layoffs in July were led by the financial and healthcare sectors. Challenger noted that Morgan Stanley and Citigroup cut their payrolls in July, and combined have cut over 5,500 workers since the start of the year.

"The situation in Europe is far from being resolved and ongoing weakness here could continue to take a toll on the financial sector," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"Making matters worse, is evidence that some big banks did not learn anything from the 2008 collapse and continue to make bad bets resulting in massive losses," he added.

The level of layoffs fell for a second straight month, keeping the monthly average below the 2011 average. It should be noted, though, that he average last year was impacted by a very large surge in layoffs in September and that declines in layoffs are typical in the summer.

In addition, firms may be reluctant to move prior to the presidential election, Challenger noted, adding that large job cuts are typical in the fourth quarter.

"So, this may simply be the lull before the storm," Challenger said.

In other data released, hiring intentions fell to 10,350 in July from 12,314 in June and were down slightly from 10,706 in July 2011. July hiring plans were led by the computer and financial sectors.

Market News International is a real-time global news service for fixed-income and foreign exchange market professionals. See www.marketnews.com.

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