The number of announced job cuts in 2011 surpassed last year's year-end total, primarily driven by federal sector layoffs, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reported Nov. 30.
Through November, job cuts reached 564,297, officially surpassing the 2010 year-end total of 529,973. The 11-month total is 13% higher than the 497,969 job cuts announced over the same period a year ago.
Overall, the number of planned layoffs announced in November remained nearly unchanged from the previous month, with 42,474 announced cuts. That's down 0.7% from October.
November job cuts were down 13% from the same month a year ago. November marks the second-straight month of lower job cuts after reaching a 28-month high of 115,730 in September.
The federal government dominated November layoff announcements with 18,508 or 44% of all job cuts during the month. Government agencies have announced 180,881 job cuts in 2011, 30% more than the 11-month period last year.
The United States Air Force accounted for 13,500 of the government job cuts in November.
"Even if Congress finds a way to delay the automatic military spending cuts triggered by the failure of the deficit reduction super committee, there is still immense pressure to cut costs. The drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq are likely to result in further personnel reductions," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The financial services industry is at risk for further cuts, Challenger said. Financial firms announced 1,681 job cuts in November, bringing the year-to-date total for the sector to 56,191. That is up 162% from 21,430 financial cuts during the same period last year.
The retail sector announced 48,338 layoffs through November, up from 33,814 a year ago.