In August, 1,587 Mass Layoff Actions Affected 165,547 Workers

Employers took 1,587 mass layoff actions in August involving 165,547 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each mass layoff involved at least 50 workers from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in August increased by 8 from July, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 20,547. In August, 391 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 48,997 initial claims. (See table 1.)

The national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in August, unchanged from the prior month but down from 9.6 percent a year earlier. In August, total nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged from the prior month at 131.1 million and increased over the year by 1.3 million.

Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The number of mass layoff events in August was 961, not seasonally adjusted, resulting in 99,213 initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Mass layoff events decreased by 15 from August 2010, while associated initial claims increased by 6,778. (See table 2.) Nine of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year increases in initial claims, with the largest increases occurring in information and manufacturing. The six-digit industry with the largest number of initial claims in August 2011 was wired telecommunications carriers. (See table A. The table includes both publicly and privately owned entities.)

Table A. Industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims in August 2011, not seasonally adjusted 
 
                                                              August peak
                  Industry
                                          Initial claims     Year   Initial 
                                                                    claims
                                                                    
Wired telecommunications carriers...........  15,014         2011    15,014
Temporary help services (1) ................   8,557         1999    11,533
School and employee bus transportation......   5,359         2003     6,538
Motion picture and video production ........   2,027         2003     6,812
Food service contractors ...................   1,868         2011     1,868
Automobile manufacturing ...................   1,820         2001     8,166
Lawn and garden equipment manufacturing ....     (2)         2011       (2)
Professional employer organizations (1) ....   1,504         2008     5,252
Household refrigerator and home freezer mfg.   1,482         2011     1,482
Warehouse clubs and supercenters ...........   1,431         2009     1,552
 
    1  See the Technical Note for more information on these industries.
    2  Data do not meet BLS or state agency disclosure standards.

The manufacturing sector accounted for 24 percent of all mass layoff events and 27 percent of initial claims filed in August. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 24 percent of events and 25 percent of initial claims. Within this sector, the number of claimants in August 2011 was greatest in the transportation equipment subsector. Eleven of the 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year increases in initial claims, with the largest increase occurring in machinery. (See table 3.)

Geographic Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Three of the 4 regions and 8 of the 9 divisions experienced over-the-year increases in initial claims for unemployment insurance due to mass layoffs in August. Among the census regions, the Northeast registered the largest over-the-year increase in initial claims. Of the geographic divisions, the Middle Atlantic had the largest over-the-year increase in initial claims. (See table 5.)

California recorded the highest number of mass layoff initial claims in August, followed by Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Thirty states and the District of Columbia experienced over-the-year increases in initial claims, led by Massachusetts and New Jersey. (See table 6.)

Note: The monthly data series in this release cover mass layoffs of 50 or more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the layoffs. For private nonfarm establishments, information on the length of the layoff is obtained later and issued in a quarterly release that reports on mass layoffs lasting more than 30 days (referred to as “extended mass layoffs”). The quarterly release provides more information on the industry classification and location of the establishment and on the demographics of the laid-off workers.

Because monthly figures include short-term layoffs of 30 days or less, the sum of the figures for the 3 months in a quarter will be higher than the quarterly figure for mass layoffs of more than 30 days. (See table 4.) See the Technical Note for more detailed definitions.

To view the Technical Notes and tables referenced above, see: www.bls.gov/news.release/mmls.nr0.htm

Source: bls.gov