CHICAGO (WBBM) — The Chicago outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas says planned job cuts soared again in February, the second straight month they’ve gone up.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the news might not be as bleak for the economy as it seems.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Company chief executive officer John Challenger said last month, employers said they planned to cut nearly 51,000 jobs, on top of 38,000 in January.

But Challenger says part of the reason is a pickup in corporate mergers.

“In the recession or its early aftermath, it was mostly due just to pure lack of demand; companies having to cut back,” Challenger said. “Now we’re seeing more cuts emerge because of mergers and acquisitions, and that’s healthier activity.”

That is little comfort for those who are losing their jobs, but not as serious of an economic indicator.

Still, many job cuts came in the public sector, as local governments tightened payrolls.

Challenger said the rising cost of fuel could put a further strain on any future hiring plans.

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