Employers took 1,761 mass layoff actions in January that resulted in the separation of 182,261 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on February 23. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. Both mass layoff events and initial claims increased from the prior month after four consecutive over-the-month decreases. In January, 486 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 62,556 initial claims. Both figures increased over the month – the first increases since August 2009 for events and since September 2009 for initial claims.
During the 26 months from December 2007 through January 2010, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 53,739, and the associated number of initial claims was 5,425,101. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)
The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in January 2010, seasonally adjusted, down from 10.0 percent the prior month but up from 7.7 percent a year earlier. In January, non-farm payroll employment decreased by 20,000 over the month and by 4,022,000 from a year earlier.
Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
The number of mass layoff events in January was 2,860 on a not seasonally adjusted basis; the number of associated initial claims was 278,679. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events decreased by 946, and associated initial claims decreased by 110,134. Sixteen of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year decreases in initial claimants, led by manufacturing (-67,911). Management of companies and educational services reported January program highs in terms of average weekly initial claimants while utilities reached a January program low. (Average weekly analysis mitigates the effect of differing lengths of months.)
The manufacturing sector accounted for 34 percent of all mass layoff events and 38 percent of initial claims filed in January 2010. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 38 percent of events and 44 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants in January was greatest in transportation equipment, followed by food, fabricated metal products and machinery. Eighteen of the 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by transportation equipment (-34,023).
The six-digit industry with the largest number of initial claims in January 2010 was temporary help services. Of the 10 detailed industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, school and employee bus transportation, discount department stores and non-residential electrical contractors reached program highs for the month of January.
Geographic Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
All regions and all divisions experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims due to mass layoffs in January. Among the four census regions, the South (-41,525) and Midwest (-31,010) registered the largest over-the-year decreases in initial claims. Of the nine geographic divisions, the East North Central (-30,146) and the South Atlantic (-21,046) had the largest over-the-year decreases of initial claims.
California recorded the highest number of initial claims in January, followed by New York and Pennsylvania. Forty states experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by Ohio (-13,850), Pennsylvania (-13,226) and Michigan (-10,418). In 2010, three states reached January program highs for average weekly initial claims: North Dakota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
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