The number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell more than 40 percent in April to the lowest level in nearly four years, suggesting employers are more confident about economic conditions, a report on Wednesday showed.

Employers announced 38,326 planned job cuts last month, the lowest since July 2006 and down from 67,611 planned job cuts in March, according to the report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The sharp decline in job cut announcements comes days ahead of the much-anticipated monthly U.S. payrolls report, which is forecast to show non-farm payrolls rose for a second month. The report is due Friday.

It is certainly a promising trend that suggests most employers are increasingly confident about conditions going forward and slowing the pace of job cutting, John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement.

The April job-cut figure was also down 71 percent from year-ago planned layoffs of 132,590, the report said.

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

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Leslie Adler)