NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Employers announced fewer planned job cuts in March, even as government sector layoffs mounted, according to a report released Wednesday.
The number of jobs cut fell 18% to 41,528 from February's 50,702, according to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Year over year, job cuts dropped 39% from 67,611 in March 2010.
"The good news is that other areas of the economy appear to have stabilized in terms of downsizing activity. The sectors that had the heaviest job losses at this point a year ago have seen significantly fewer layoffs," Rick Cobb, executive vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.
The March numbers mean that 130,749 job cuts were announced in the first three months of 2011, the lowest first-quarter total since 1995.
But for workers in public sector jobs, it was not a good month. Government positions dominated planned job cuts, accounting for 19,099, or 46% of all announced reductions.
"It is difficult to be optimistic about the outlook for government workers," Cobb said. "Most cities and states have only just begun to address their massive budget deficits, and we have yet to see how budget cutbacks are going to impact workers at the federal level."
The Challenger report -- along with an additional report from ADP -- typically set the tone for the government's highly anticipated monthly employment data, which is due Friday.
For broadcast television, this is the Year of the African-American Viewer. More
Drone-maker DJI is planning a software update to prevent its drones from flying in downtown D.C. More
On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More
Orthopedic surgeons take home a median $410,000 in salary and bonus annually. What other great careers from CNNMoney and PayScale.com's list of Best Jobs in America offer hefty paychecks? More