CHICAGO (CBS) — A new survey finds that planned job cuts by employers picked up a bit last month but still were way below a year ago.

The September figures from Chicago-based Challenger Gray & Christmas show nearly 34,000 planned job cuts, up nearly 5 percent from August.

However, that number is down a whopping 71 percent over a year ago when downsizing surged to a 29-month high.

Last month’s cuts were lowest for September since 1997.

CEO John Challenger says layoffs have come back down to pre-recession levels, but he says hiring remains weak.

In a new survey of CEOs of the nation’s largest corporations, only 29 percent expected to add workers, down 42 percent from the beginning of the year.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports