The number of planned layoffs at U.S. companies in May was almost unchanged from April, when they touched a four-year low, suggesting employers are more upbeat about the economic outlook, a report on Wednesday showed.

Employers announced 38,810 job cuts in the month, slightly more than the 38,326 unveiled in April, according to the report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The report on job cut announcements comes days ahead of the government's much-anticipated monthly U.S. payrolls report, which is forecast to show non-farm payrolls rose by 513,000 in May after climbing 290,000 in April. The jobs report is due Friday.

Announced job cuts have, for all intents and purposes, returned to prerecession levels, said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc in a statement.

What makes the low job-cut totals we have seen this spring particularly remarkable is that we still have not reached what is the slowest downsizing period of the year, which typically occurs during the summer months.

The May job-cut figure was down 65 percent from year-ago planned layoffs of 111,182, the report said.

While overall job cuts are on the decline, the government and non-profit sector continue to downsize, it said.

Unlike the private sector, which is beginning to see the fruits of recovery, the budget crisis for many states and municipalities is only getting worse, said Challenger.

(Reporting by Ciara Linnane, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)