U.S. planned layoffs fall 20 pct in Sept -Challenger


NEW YORK, Oct 3 (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs atU.S. firms fell 20 percent in September, even as cuts in thehealthcare sector more than doubled from the prior month, areport on Thursday showed.

Employers announced 40,289 layoffs last month, down from50,462 in August, according to the report from consultantsChallenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Still, the September job cuts were up 19 percent from thesame month last year. For 2013 so far, employers have announced387,384 losses, close to the 386,000 seen in the first ninemonths of last year.

The healthcare sector saw the biggest layoffs, with plans tocut 8,128 employees as health companies faced lower governmentpayments, up from 3,163 in August.

"The healthcare sector is adjusting workforce levels due tocutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements initiated underthe Affordable Care Act as well as overall reductions in federalspending due to sequestration," said John A. Challenger, chiefexecutive of Challenger, Gray.

The financial sector saw the next largest number of plannedjob cuts, with 6,932 in September compared with 3,096 a monthearlier.

The Challenger report took on added significance this weekafter the U.S. federal government shutdown limited other labormarket data. The U.S. Labor Department said it will not issueits key monthly U.S. non-farm payrolls report on Friday if thegovernment is still shut down, though weekly jobless claims werescheduled to be released as normal on Thursday.

While the shutdown is an added challenge for the U.S.outlook, it has had no immediate impact on the economy, theChallenger report said, pointing to strength in recentlyannounced retail holiday hiring numbers.

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