Employers initiated 3,597 mass layoff actions in January-February 2003, as
measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the 2 months,
according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single establishment, and the
number of workers involved totaled 340,474. In January-February 2002, there
were 3,529 mass layoff events involving 402,805 workers. (January-February 2003
had one more week than the January-February periods of the prior two years.)
With the resumption of the Mass Layoff Statistics program, data are now available
since November 2002 (issued on Dec. 24, 2002). The addition of December brings
the total of layoff events for all of 2002 to 20,269 and the total of initial
claimants to 2,244,631. Both of these measures were lower than in 2001 (21,467
and 2,514,862, respectively).
Manufacturing industries accounted for 35 percent of all mass layoff events
and 40 percent of all initial claims filed in January-February. A year earlier,
layoffs in this sector accounted for 39 percent of events and 47 percent of
initial claims. Twelve percent of all layoff events and all initial claims filed
during the 2 months were in administrative and waste services, mostly in temporary
help services. Thirteen percent of the events and 9 percent of all initial claims
in January-February were from construction, largely specialty trade contractors.
Retail trade accounted for 9 percent of all events and initial claims, mainly
from general merchandise stores
Compared with January-February 2002, the largest decreases in initial claims
were reported in transportation equipment manufacturing (-19,730) and in computer
and electronic products manufacturing (-9,627). The largest over-the-year increase
in initial claims was reported in transit and ground passenger transportation
The MLS program was discontinued as of Dec. 31, 2002, due to a lack of funding.
However, funds for the MLS resumption were contained in H.J. Res. 2, the Omnibus
Appropriation Bill, signed into law on Feb. 20.