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May 01, 2003
Mass Layoffs Ease in March
Employers initiated 1,170 mass layoff actions involving a total of 109,838 workers in March 2003, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single establishment.

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Over 8 percent of the initial claims in March were from the temporary help services industry (9,138).

From January through March 2003, the total number of events, at 4,767, and initial claims, at 450,312, were lower than in January-March 2002 (4,989 and 564,141, respectively).

Manufacturing industries accounted for 33 percent of all mass layoff events and 37 percent of all initial claims filed in March, little changed from a year earlier (34 percent and 37 percent, respectively). The number of initial claimants was highest in food production (7,520, largely in frozen fruits and vegetables), followed by computer and electronic products (5,298) and transportation equipment (5,061).

Government establishments accounted for 4 percent of events and 3 percent of initial claims filed during the month, particularly in educational services.

Compared with March 2002, the largest decreases in initial claims were reported in administrative and support services (-7,475) and professional and technical services (-5,206).

Among the four regions, the highest number of initial claims in March due to mass layoffs was reported in the West, 46,815. Administrative and support services and motion picture and sound recording accounted for 28 percent of all initial claims in the West during the month. The Midwest followed with 26,239 initial claims.

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