Dec. 7, 2004--With the 2004 holiday season getting into full swing, corporate America is sending out mixed signals when it comes to its employment resolutions for the New Year.

First, the bad news. U.S. companies planned to cut 104,530 jobs in November, up from 101,840 in October, according to a study released by employment consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. November's total is the third consecutive month that planned job cuts have topped 100,000--the first time that has happened since 2002.

"Higher health care and energy costs for employers and employees are definitely taking a toll," said John Challenger, CEO of the firm. "Companies are being forced to enact more cost-containment measures to protect profits."

On the flip side, good news could be found in a quarterly survey of 2,300 chief executives released by TEC International. More than two-thirds of the CEOs surveyed reported that they planned to increase their total number of employees in the next 12 months and only 5% said they would actually decrease payrolls.

A majority of respondents think that overall economic conditions are better than they were a year ago despite lingering concerns over oil prices, government economic policies and healthcare.

Other good news for holiday shoppers was that 73% of the respondents to the TEC survey said they planned to hand out year-end bonuses the same size or larger than last year.