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September 30, 2003
Mass Layoffs Leave 134,000 Jobless
Employers shed nearly 134,000 jobs in mass layoffs in August in 1,258 mass layoff actions, 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.

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Compared with August 2002, both the number of layoff events and the number of initial claims increased, marking the first over-the-year increase in mass-layoff initial claims since May 2002. From January through August 2003, the total number of events, at 13,205, was higher than for the same period a year ago, while the number of initial claims, at 1,316,863, was lower.

The BLS's report covers mass layoffs of 50 or more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the layoffs. Information on the length of the layoff is obtained later and issued in a quarterly release that reports on mass layoffs lasting more than 30 days.

Among the four regions, the highest number of initial claims in August due to mass layoffs was reported in the West, 47,022. Administrative and support services and motion picture and sound recording accounted for 35 percent of all initial claims in that region during the month. The South followed, with 34,673 initial claims, then the Midwest, with 30,872, and the Northeast, with 21,272. The number of initial claimants in mass layoffs rose over the year in three of the four regions, with the largest increase in the West (+3,877). The Northeast had the only over-the-year decrease (-3,906). Five of the nine geographic divisions had over-the-year increases in the number of initial claims associated with mass layoffs, with the largest increases in the East North Central (+4,499) and East South Central (+4,459).

California recorded the largest number of initial claims filed in mass layoff events this August, 37,814. New York reported 10,633 initial claims, followed by Illinois (7,996), North Carolina (6,680), Texas (6,571), and Ohio (6,389). These six states accounted for 55 percent of all layoff events and 57 percent of initial claims for unemployment insurance.

From January through August, California reported 322,669 initial claims, 25 percent of the national total. The states with the next highest numbers of initial claims were Pennsylvania (80,979), Ohio (75,412), New York (71,248), and Texas (65,529).

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