Downsizing activity by U.S.-based employers declined by 30 percent in November, with 35,940 planned job cuts announced during the penultimate month of 2014, according to the report Thursday from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The November slowdown comes just one month after job cuts surged 70 percent to 51,183 in October. The November total was 21 percent lower than the 45,314 job cuts announced the same month a year ago.

Heading into the final month of the year, employers have announced 450,531 job cuts, to date. That is down 5.8 percent from 478,428 at the same point in 2013. Currently, job cuts are on pace to finish 2014 with the lowest year-end total since 1997.

Companies in the consumer products industry saw the heaviest downsizing last month, shedding 5,158 jobs from their payrolls. The health care sector followed closely, with 5,124 announced job cuts during the month.

Year-to-date, the computer industry remains the top job-cutting industry, having announced 58,207 planned layoffs. That is nearly double the 29,558 job cuts announced by computer firms between January and November 2013.

The second leading job-cut industry to date is the retail sector, which has announced 41,588 job cuts this year, including 2,640 last month.

“While retailers have cut about 9,500 jobs over the last two months, this is an area that continues to expand. Right now, these employers are adding tens of thousands of seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush. It is true that these jobs are temporary and most will be eliminated in the new year. However, government data show that employment in the sector has nearly reached pre-recession levels and continues to grow,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Seasonally-adjusted employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which are intended to smooth out the volatile fluctuations related to seasonal hiring, show that there were 15.4 million workers in retail, as of October. That is just shy of the record-level of 15.5 million reached in 2007.

“And, before dismissing all of these new jobs as low-skilled, low-paying sales clerk and cashier jobs, remember that the shift toward online shopping means retailers are hiring more and more app developers, IT security professionals, online and social media marketing teams, logistics engineers, as analysts to collect, sort and interpret all of that data collected with each mouse click.”

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