Employers took 1,412 mass layoff actions in May that resulted in the separation of 135,789 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on June 24. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in May decreased by 444 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 65,081. In May, 266 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 22,577 initial claims. Both figures declined over the month to their lowest levels in program history. (Data begins in 1995.)

During the 30 months from December 2007 through May 2010, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 60,205, and the associated number of initial claims was 6,068,342. (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 May 2010, seasonally adjusted, down from 9.9 percent the prior month and up from 9.4 percent a year earlier. In May, total non-farm payroll employment grew by 431,000 over the month, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, but down by 585,000 from a year earlier.

Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
The number of mass layoff events in May was 1,354 on a not seasonally adjusted basis; the number of associated initial claims was 123,333. Over the year, the number of average weekly mass layoff events decreased by 209, and associated average weekly initial claims decreased by 27,092. Fifteen of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims, led by manufacturing. (Average weekly analysis mitigates the effect of differing lengths of months.) Both average weekly events and initial claimants reached their highest May levels in program history in 2009.

The manufacturing sector accounted for 16 percent of all mass layoff events and initial claims filed in May 2010. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 37 percent of events and 43 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants in May 2010 was greatest in food and transportation equipment. All 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims, led by transportation equipment.

The six-digit industry with the largest number of initial claims in May 2010 was food service contractors. (See table A.) Of the 10 detailed industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, teleproduction and postproduction services, elementary and secondary schools, junior colleges, and colleges and universities reached program highs for the month of May. This table includes both publicly and privately owned entities.

Geographic Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
All four regions and all nine divisions experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims due to mass layoffs in May. Among the four census regions, the Midwest and South registered the largest over-the-year declines in average weekly initial claims. Of the nine geographic divisions, the East North Central and the Middle Atlantic had the largest over-the-year declines.

California recorded the highest number of initial claims in May, followed by Texas, Florida, and Illinois. Forty-four states experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims, led by Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois.