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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mass Layoffs Fall Further
by Tom Moeller  October 23, 2012

Fewer payrolls were cut back last month. The Labor Department reported that layoffs of 50 or more persons from a single firm fell to 811, the lowest level since September 2007; down nearly by one-third y/y. However, this decline was to be expected given the time of year. On a seasonally adjusted basis mass layoff events ticked up to 1,316.

In September, large m/m declines were spread throughout industries. In construction they fell nearly one-third m/m and by more than one-half y/y. In manufacturing they fell 12.0% (-25.3% y/y) but rose slightly when seasonally adjusted. Retail trade layoffs were off by more than one-half m/m and y/y. In retail trade they were stable m/m and down 8.3% y/y. In most other industries layoff events fell sharply except in arts, entertainment & recreation industries. Here, there were nearly one-third more claims versus August and 11.1% more y/y.  

There were 70,570 (-39.8% y/y) initial claims for unemployment insurance accompanying these layoffs; 22,748 (-29.0% y/y) in manufacturing and 6,930 (-45.9% y/y) in retail trade.

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 (NSA) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total All Industries 811 1,063 1,715 -31.8% 18,521 19,564 28,030
 Private Nonfarm 768 1,016 1,385 -30.7 17,046 17,887 26,437
  Construction 65 96 86 -56.7 1,994 2,262 2,833
  Manufacturing 221 251 559 -25.3 4,397 4,523 9,627
  Retail Trade 86 115 92 -28.3 1,448 1,574 1,965
  Information 33 33 32 -8.3 522 548 752
  Finance & Insurance 13 28 24 -40.9 313 430 677
  Health Care & Social Assistance 28 31 56 -28.2 738 709 675
  Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 30 23 14 11.1 338 363 389
 Government 43 47 130 -46.9 1,475 1,677 1,593
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