Layoffs in the United States rose 8 percent in July from the previous month, a report said on Monday, as the job market recovery struggled to gain momentum.

The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. (search) said employers announced 69,572 job cuts in July, up from 64,343 in June but down 18 percent from July 2003.

Hiring announcements also declined, but companies do not announce hires as frequently as they announce layoffs. The number of announced hires fell to 26,880, a 30 percent decline from June's 38,377. June hiring announcements fell 31 percent from May.

The upcoming U.S. elections and an apparent sputter in economic growth late in the second quarter seem to be making companies less inclined to hire now, said Rick Cobb, executive vice president at Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

But generally, layoff announcements have been trending lower over the last few years, as economic growth has accelerated, Cobb said.