CHICAGO-Job cut announcements by Illinois businesses last month fell sharply from a year earlier, but were much higher than those reported in December of last year.

According to a report released late last week by Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas, there were 1,488 planned job cuts in the state of Illinois in January, down from more than 7,600 back in January 2012, when Abbott Laboratories, Archer Daniels Midland, Sears Holdings, Kraft Foods and Northern Trust all announced job cutting programs.

However, impending employee layoffs from firms such as United Continental Holdings (600) and Ryan International Airlines (209) last month fueled a six-fold increase in Illinois job cuts as compared to December 2012 when less than 250 job eliminations were reported.

“While GDP contracted by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, the relatively low job-cut totals we have seen for the last couple of months indicate that employers do not foresee a prolonged decline in economic activity,” says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a prepared statement. See story in the Chicago Sun-Times.