Layoff announcements at U.S. firms soared to the third largest number since the indicator was first tracked in 1993, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Tuesday, as firms sought to weather the recession by reducing costs.

Job cuts announced in January totaled 212,704, up 32 percent from December, when companies announced 161,584 layoffs, the Challenger report said.

"Consumers are spending less and business is spending a lot less," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger Gray.

"Until this trend reverses, companies will have to find ways to contain costs because there is simply not enough money coming in," he said.

January saw the third largest number of job cut announcements since Challenger started its survey in 1993. Last month's rise reverses three straight monthly declines in layoff announcements.

Reuters contributed to this report.