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Challenger, Gray & Christmas

said U.S. corporations disclosed plans for a record number of job cuts in January, the second month in a row that a new benchmark for pink slips has been set.

Challenger, an outplacement firm that tracks job cuts, said about 16% of the total came from employees working in the Internet, e-commerce and computer industries.

The 142,208 job cuts that were announced in January surpassed the previous record of 133,713 layoffs set in December. January's total is the highest since Challenger started tracking the data in 1993, and marked the first time job cuts totaled more than 100,000 for two months in a row.

The firm said 11,887 jobs were eliminated in the Internet and e-commerce areas, while 10,904 jobs were lost in the computer sector.

The automotive industry led the charge with 34,959 job cuts in the month. Automakers saw

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shrinking sales in January, and



said it was laying off

26,000 employees, or about 20% of its workforce.

Coming in a distant second was the telecom industry with 22,060 planned cuts, followed by retailers with 15,344 layoffs.

"Job security has suffered a severe shock,'' John Challenger, the chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement. "It appears that companies have already been heavily impacted by the slowing economy or are preparing for the worst through deep cuts in payroll costs.''