NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - U.S. job-cut announcements rose in October to their highest level in a year, according to a report Tuesday by an outplacement firm that keeps track of job cuts.
U.S. businesses announced 171,874 job cuts in October, up 125 percent from September's level of 76,506, according to Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It was the greatest number of job cuts since 176,010 in October 2002.
Challenger CEO John Challenger noted that October has in recent years become one of the worst job-cutting months of the year, since it's a time when many companies are finalizing budgets and plans for the following year.
Nevertheless, Challenger said he doubted new jobs would be quick in coming.
"With factors like technology, outsourcing and consolidation working against job creation, any job market rebound we see in the near future will be relatively small," Challenger said.
Though unemployment is typically a lagging economic indicator, the U.S. economy has enjoyed eight straight quarters of economic growth, including a growth rate of 7.2 percent in the third quarter of 2003, without significant job creation.
In fact, since the declared end of the latest recession, in November 2001, more than a million payroll jobs have been lost, according to the Labor Department.
Challenger's firm also surveyed about 50 human resources executives and found that 78 percent don't expect to see a "significant" upturn in hiring until the second quarter of 2004.
Eleven percent of those surveyed said the pick-up would be delayed until the third or fourth quarter of 2004. Another 11 percent said there would be no hiring rebound at all in 2004.
So far this year, there have been 1.04 million job-cut announcements, making 2003 the third straight year in which more than a million cuts have been announced.
The automotive industry led the payroll-trimming, with 28,363 announced cuts. Retail followed with 21,169 cuts, the long-suffering telecommunications sector announced 21,030 cuts, the "industrial goods" sector announced 17,484 cuts and the consumer products sector announced 12,077 cuts.
Among U.S. states, Michigan had the most job-cut announcements, with 31,105. Texas followed with 21,033 cuts, New York had 20,486 cuts, New Jersey had 10,750 cuts and California had 10,719 cuts.