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U.S. planned layoffs jump in August: Challenger

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms surged in August to their highest in half a year, with industrial goods manufacturers the hardest hit, a report on Thursday showed.

Employers announced 50,462 layoffs last month, up 33.8 percent from 37,701 in July, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The August job cuts were up 57 percent from the same time a year ago. For 2013 so far, employers have announced 347,095 job losses, close to the 352,185 that were seen in the first eight months of last year.

Industrial goods manufacturers saw the biggest layoffs, cutting 22,162 employees, the largest total for the sector since January 2009.

"Heavy job cuts in the industrial goods sector are never a good thing, as they can be indicative of widening cracks in the economy's foundation," said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"However, the August surge in industrial goods job cuts was driven largely by falling global demand for mining equipment," he said.

The computer sector came in second, letting 4,663 workers go.

The figures come one day ahead of the key U.S. non-farm payrolls report, which is forecast to show the economy added 180,000 jobs in August, keeping the unemployment rate flat at 7.4 percent.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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