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Economy in Brief

U.S. Mass Layoff Events Near Cycle Low
by Tom Moeller  March 22, 2013

The employment market continues to firm. The Labor Department reported that layoffs of 50 or more persons from a single firm fell to 960 during February, near the cycle's low. That comes on the heels of a 7.8% decline to 17,080 during all of last year. On a seasonally adjusted basis, mass layoff events rose m/m to 1,422, but that was near the lowest since just before the last recession began.

In February, construction layoffs fell by nearly one-half m/m yet still were up by one-quarter y/y. In manufacturing they fell 57.8% m/m to a record low. However, when seasonally adjusted, factory sector layoffs showed a lesser decline. During all of last year, the number of factory sector layoffs was down for the third straight year. Retail trade layoffs fell 5.9% m/m and 5.2% y/y. In most other industries, during the twelve months ended February the number of mass layoff events fell after declining for the full years 2012 and 2011. 

There were 79,786 initial claims for unemployment insurance accompanying these layoffs; 21,630 in manufacturing, 11,875 in administrative & waste services, 10,111 in retail trade and 2,907 in professional & technical services.

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) Feb Jan Dec 2012 2011 2010
Total All Industries 960 1,528 1,973 17,080 18,521 19,564
 Private Nonfarm 928 1,466 1,882 15,966 17,046 17,887
  Construction 103 188 312 1,806 1,994 2,262
  Manufacturing 192 455 477 3,886 4,397 4,523
  Retail Trade 128 136 114 1,393 1,448 1,574
  Information 37 36 31 441 522 548
  Finance & Insurance 20 25 19 305 313 430
  Health Care & Social Assistance 26 23 59 692 738 709
  Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 12 32 19 329 338 363
 Government 32 62 91 1,114 1,475 1,677
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