March 1, 2007 -- Planned job cuts surged by 33 percent to 84,014 in February, the highest level since September, Chicago-based employment-consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday.

The increase, which included a single-day tally of 20,000 layoffs, was led by more than 18,000 cuts in the automotive industry alone, the report said.

Other sectors that saw a high number of job cuts included the food and computer industries, the report said.

"Clearly, the struggles in the American auto industry and housing market have not subsided," John Challenger, the firm's CEO, said in a statement.

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