WASHINGTON - There were 40,559 layoff intentions announced in April, up from 37,880 in March and from the 36,490 job cuts announced in April 2011, job placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, Inc. said in a report released Thursday. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

Layoffs in April were led by the education sector, which reported 9,027 job reductions in the month, as the pressure to cut costs remains at the state and local government level.

Challenger noted that education layoffs through the first four months of 2012 totaled 14,710, down from the 21,505 education layoffs in the same period a year ago.

Despite total layoffs in the first four months of 2012 running slightly ahead of the same period in 2011, the 2012 monthly average is still below the monthly average for all of 2011. This is due in part to a huge layoff total in September 2011 that skewed that year's average higher, but Challenger was also somewhat positive about layoffs in the near term.

"While job gains may indeed hit a lull in the coming months, we do not foresee a sudden upsurge in downsizing activity," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"Even with the increased job cuts in consumer products, retail and transportation, the monthly totals remain well below levels that would signal a reversal in the recovery," he added.

Still, Challenger noted that a lack of momentum in demand is what is keeping the hiring in check.

"While some would like to attribute the lack of hiring to uncertainty and regulatory roadblocks, the fact is that demand for goods and services simply has not reached a level that warrants accelerated hiring," said Challenger

In other data released, hiring intentions fell to 11,794 in April from 12,390 in March, and were down sharply from 59,648 in April 2011. April hiring plans were led by the financial sector.

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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