) -- Layoffs in the financial industry are accelerating, according to the latest report from outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Wall Street shed 34,856 jobs in the first four months of 2013, nearly three times the 12,860 layoffs in the first four months of 2012.

The financial sector is leading the downsizing effort in Corporate America, accounting for 19% of the job cuts announced so far in 2013. Retail, healthcare and aerospace/defense sectors are also firing more workers amid slowing consumer spending and government budget cutbacks.

Banks are laying off employees to lower costs and boost returns in a difficult operating environment.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

is in the middle of laying off as many as 30,000 workers.


(C) - Get Report

said late last year that it would layoff as many as 11,000 workers.

Earlier this year,

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

said it will slash 19,000 jobs, mostly from its mortgage banking business.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

said it will reduce its headcount by 4% to 6% this year, mostly in its travel business unit, as more of its customers shift to online portals for booking travel plans.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj New York.

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