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U.S. planned layoffs at lowest of the year in April: Challenger

Students hold letters spelling out "No layoffs" during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Ma
Students hold letters spelling out "No layoffs" during the 361st Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts Ma

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell to their lowest level of the year in April, suggesting slowing economic growth has not translated into significant job losses, a report showed on Thursday.

Employers announced 38,121 planned job cuts last month, down nearly 23 percent from 49,255 in March, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. It was the lowest level since last December.

April's layoffs were also down 6 percent from a year ago. So far this year, employers have announced 183,162 cuts, just slightly below the 183,653 that were seen in the first four months of last year.

After a pickup in economic growth in the beginning of the year, recent data suggests the recovery cooled heading into the second quarter. U.S. companies hired at their slowest pace in seven months in April, while the jobs report from the government due on Friday is expected to remain lackluster.

Still, the recent slowdown has yet to result in increased or widespread downsizing, said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The retail sector saw the biggest number of job cuts as companies reduced 5,897 positions, though that was down significantly from March's 16,445 layoffs.

The report comes a day ahead of the U.S. Labor Department's key jobs report, which is forecast to show the economy created 145,000 jobs last month, rebounding from March's disappointing 88,000.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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