Published: Mar 06, 2014 8:38 AM EST

UNDATED (AP) - Fewer workers were losing their jobs last month, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
    
Challenger says job cuts announced in February totaled less than 42,000, down 7.3 percent from January. Challenger says that's 24 percent less than a year ago and the lowest February total since the turn of the century.
    
CEO John Challenger says this isn't what he'd expect if "the economy is about ready to tip over or we're near recession." He says the relatively low number of layoffs suggests an improving business climate has reduced pressure on employers to cut jobs. At the current pace, he says, the first quarter could see the fewest job cuts since 1995.
    
The heaviest job-cut activity last month was in the financial sector. Challenger says some of those cuts were related to cutbacks in mortgage lending as interest rates rise, but a lot "were due to the ongoing shift away from branch banking toward increaded mobile banking."

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