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Private sector adds 91,000 jobs, but planned layoffs at 2-year high

October 5, 2011 |  9:20 am

Jobs U.S. employers announced plans in September to shed more than 115,000 workers -- the highest total in more than two years, according to a new jobs report.

That’s more than double the 51,000 cuts announced in August and more than three times the 37,000 cuts planned a year earlier. The previous record was in April 2009, when employers planned to slash nearly 133,000 jobs, according to employment consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

According to another report, from payrolls processor ADP, private-sector employment rose by 91,000 jobs in September. The “modest” increase was led by 60,000 additional positions in small businesses, which have been averaging 73,000 new jobs a month for the last year.

Medium-sized companies also did well, tacking on 36,000 more employees, while large businesses shed 5,000 workers, according to ADP.

Layoffs in the bank and military sector spiked, according to the Challenger report.

Government employers attempting to slash spending were responsible for a third of the job losses. The U.S. Army revealed a five-year goal to thin its troops by 50,000.

The financial industry also said it needed to scale back jobs, with Bank of America attempting to save $5 billion a year by cutting 30,000 workers over several years.

“Bank of America is not the only bank still struggling in the wake of the housing collapse,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive of the consultancy. “And, the military cutbacks are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to federal spending cuts and layoffs.”

But the reductions were tempered by retailers' seasonal hiring plans, Challenger said. Toys R Us said it would hire 40,000 people to handle the holiday shopping rush, while Halloween City and Party City said they would hire a combined 26,000 workers.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: An encouraging word hangs from the facade of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building in Washington. Credit: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images

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