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The number of planned job cuts by major U.S. businesses declined in September from a year ago as the unemployment rate hovered near a quarter-century low, a survey showed today.

Planned cuts dropped 30 percent last month to 20,698 from 29,632 during September 1996, according to the monthly survey by the employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

Planned dismissals fell 23 percent from August's announced job cuts of 26,883, the firm said.

Though the U.S. economy is healthy, many businesses still resort to cutting jobs for financial reasons. That's especially true in the retail industry, which has experienced waves of store closing in recent years amid fierce competition.

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