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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mass Layoffs Trend Lower
by Tom Moeller  June 20, 2012

Mass layoffs in the U.S. during May fell slightly following a sharp April increase. The Labor Department reported this morning that layoffs of 50 or more persons from a single firm slipped a seasonally adjusted 0.6% to 1,380 following a 9.0% April rise. So far this year, the number of mass layoff events has declined moderately following sharp declines following the last recession. The total number of initial unemployment insurance claims accompanying these layoffs was 130,191 in May versus 144,412 in May of last year.

The number of layoff events in most industries stabilized following earlier declines. Exceptions are the manufacturing, wholesale trade, real estate, rental & leasing industries and the Federal Government where the number of events continued to trend lower.

A mass layoff involves at least 50 initial claimants from a single establishment filing during a consecutive 5-week period. The BLS data are available in Haver's USECON database. Underlying state and area detail are available in the REGIONAL database.

Mass Layoffs May Apr Mar 2011 2010 2009
Total (SA) 1,380 1,388 1,273 17,517 19,294 28,286
Total (Y/Y) -13.7% -10.3% -0.2% -9.2% -31.8% 30.3%
 Private Nonfarm 1,099 1,378 1,083 17,046 17,887 26,437
  Construction 129 138 121 1,994 2,262 2,833
  Manufacturing 264 287 261 4,052 4,254 10,083
  Retail Trade 117 105 100 1,448 1,574 1,965
  Information 39 35 49 522 548 752
  Finance & Insurance 31 33 30 313 430 677
  Health Care & Social Assistance 95 41 33 738 709 675
  Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 26 40 16 338 363 389
 Government 102 43 42 1,475 1,677 1,593
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