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
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).