Planned Layoffs Surge in July

The economy took an unexpected hit in July, with planned layoffs surging to a 16-month high, according to a report by consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Employers announced 66,414 layoffs last month, many of them in industries that had previously been relatively safe. Layoffs in pharmaceutical and retail sectors overtook nonprofit and government cuts. "A casual observer certainly might conclude that the wheels just fell off the recovery wagon," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of the firm.