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February 23, 2001
Mass Layoffs Rose in Fourth Quarter
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re were 1,905 mass layoff actions by employers that resulted in the separation of 374,320 workers from their jobs for more than 30 days in the fourth quarter of 2000, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Both the total number of layoff events and the number of separations were higher than in October-December 1999. For all of 2000, however, extended mass layoff events, at 5,522, and the number of worker separations, at 1,117,183, were lower than any other year since the program began in the second quarter of 1995.

The completion of seasonal work was the major reason cited for layoffs in the fourth quarter, accounting for 53 percent of all events and 52 percent of all separations. Layoffs due to internal company restructuring accounted for 14 percent of events and resulted in 65,618 separations. Permanent closure of work sites occurred in 12 percent of all events and affected 47,688 workers, up from a year earlier (43,522 workers).

The quarterly series on extended mass layoffs cover layoffs of at least 31-days duration that involve 50 or more individuals from a single establishment filing initial claims for unemployment insurance during a consecutive five-week period.

In the private sector, agriculture accounted for 18 percent of all layoff events and 21 percent of all separations during October-December 2000. The layoff activity occurred in agricultural services (primarily in farm labor contracting) and agricultural crop production (mainly in grapes and berry crops) and was almost entirely due to the end of seasonal work.

Thirty-two percent of all layoff events and separations occurred in manufacturing industries. Layoffs from durable goods industries were most prevalent in transportation equipment (mostly in motor vehicles and car bodies and in motor vehicle parts and accessories) and in primary metal industries (primarily in blast furnaces and steel mills and in copper rolling and drawings). Forty-six percent of worker separations in transportation equipment during the period were due to slack work.

Among non-durable goods establishments, layoffs were most numerous in food and kindred products (primarily in canned and frozen fruits and vegetables) and in apparel.

Services accounted for 14 percent of private-sector layoff events and 17 percent of separations, primarily in business services (largely help supply services) and in hotels and lodging. Cutbacks in construction comprised 23 percent of all layoff events and 16 percent of all separations. These layoffs were largely in heavy construction, excluding buildings (highway and street construction). Retail trade made up for 4 percent of all layoff events and 6 percent of all separations, largely in department stores and in catalog and mail-order houses.

Layoffs in government establishments accounted for 2 percent of all events and 5 percent of all separations, primarily in local government.

Fifty-three percent of the events and 52 percent of the separations in the fourth quarter were due to the completion of seasonal work. Layoffs due to internal company restructuring (bankruptcy, business ownership change, financial difficulty, and reorganization) accounted for 14 percent of layoff events and 18 percent of separations, largely due to job cutbacks in hotels and lodging and in transportation equipment manufacturing.

For more information, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site.

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