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Employers took 1,726 mass layoff actions in December that resulted in the separation of 153,127 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on January 27. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in December decreased by 87 from the prior month and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 10,696. Both figures reached their lowest level since July 2008. In December, 433 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 44,072 initial claims. Both figures decreased over the month to their lowest levels since November and August 2007, respectively.
During the 25 months from December 2007 through December 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 51,978 and the associated number of initial claims was 5,242,840. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)
In 2009, on a not seasonally adjusted basis, the total numbers of mass layoff events, at 28,030 and initial claims, at 2,796,456, reached their highest annual levels on record. (Annual data began in 1996.) Among the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy, 12 registered annual program highs for both mass layoff events and initial claims. All four regions, all nine divisions and 43 states and the District of Columbia experienced increases in total annual initial claims from 2008 to 2009. In addition, three of the four regions, six of the nine divisions and 26 states recorded program highs in terms of initial claims activity in 2009.
The national unemployment rate was 10.0 percent in December 2009, seasonally adjusted, unchanged from the prior month but up from 7.4 percent a year earlier. In December, non-farm payroll employment decreased by 85,000 over the month and by 4,164,000 from a year earlier.
Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
The number of mass layoff events in December was 2,310 on a not seasonally adjusted basis; the number of associated initial claims was 214,648. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events decreased by 1,067 and associated initial claims decreased by 136,657. Thirteen of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported overthe-year decreases in initial claimants, led by manufacturing (-107,989). Three sectors reported December program highs in terms of average weekly initial claimants: retail trade; educational services; and accommodation and food services. (Average weekly analysis mitigates the effect of differing lengths of months.)
The manufacturing sector accounted for 27 percent of all mass layoff events and 30 percent of initial claims filed in December 2009. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 41 percent of events and 49 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants in December was greatest in transportation equipment, machinery and food. All 21 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by transportation equipment (-50,799) and plastics and rubber products (-10,728).
The six-digit NAICS industry with the largest number of initial claims in December 2009 was food service contractors. Of the 10 six-digit industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, food service contractors and commercial building construction reached program highs for the month of December.
Geographic Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
Among the four census regions, the Midwest registered the highest number of initial claims in December due to mass layoffs, followed by the South and the West. Initial claims decreased over the year in all of the regions, with the Midwest (-69,329) and the South (-46,059) experiencing the largest decreases. Of the nine geographic divisions, the East North Central had the highest number of initial claims due to mass layoffs in December, followed by the Pacific and Middle Atlantic. All nine divisions experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by the East North Central (-56,114). California recorded the highest number of initial claims in December, followed by Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by Ohio (-18,948) and Kentucky (-16,557). In 2009, three states reached December program highs for average weekly initial claims: Florida, New York and Utah.
Review of 2009
For all of 2009, on a not seasonally adjusted basis, the total numbers of mass layoff events, at 28,030 and initial claims, at 2,796,456, reached their highest annual levels on record. Among the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy, manufacturing had the most initial claims in 2009 (1,137,106), followed by administrative and waste services (294,709) and construction (205,765). Manufacturing also had the largest over-the-year increase in total annual initial claims (+266,796), with retail trade (+57,283) and administrative and waste services (+48,039) experiencing the next largest increases. Among the major industry sectors, 12 registered series highs for both mass layoff events and initial claims in 2009: mining; construction; wholesale trade; retail trade; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; real estate and rental and leasing; management of companies and enterprises; administrative and waste services; health care and social assistance; arts, entertainment and recreation; and accommodation and food services.
The manufacturing sector accounted for 36 percent of all mass layoff events and 43 percent of initial claims filed in the private economy in 2009; in 2008, manufacturing made up 34 percent of events and 43 percent of initial claims. The number of manufacturing claimants in 2009 was highest in transportation equipment (304,693), followed by machinery (164,176) and fabricated metal products (84,702). Total initial claims for 18 of the 21 manufacturing subsectors increased from 2008 to 2009, with machinery experiencing the largest change (+110,503). Transportation equipment recorded the largest over-the-year decrease (-18,929).
The six-digit NAICS industries with the largest total number of initial claims in 2009 were temporary help services, school and employee bus transportation and food service contractors. Construction machinery manufacturing entered the top 10 in terms of initial claims, displacing heavy duty truck manufacturing. Of the top 10 industries, six reached program highs in 2009: construction machinery manufacturing; light truck and utility vehicle manufacturing; school and employee bus transportation; professional employer organizations; elementary and secondary schools; and food service contractors.
Among the four census regions, the Midwest reported the highest number of mass layoff initial claims filed during 2009 (892,202), followed by the West and the South. All four regions experienced over-the-year annual increases, with the largest increases taking place in the Midwest (+215,611). The Midwest, Northeast and South also reached program highs for total initial claims in 2009. All nine geographic divisions also experienced higher claimant activity in 2009 when compared with 2008, with the largest increases occurring in the East North Central (+167,804) – which also had the largest number of claims in 2009, the Middle Atlantic (+119,644) and the South Atlantic (+118,688). Six of the nine divisions reached program highs for total annual claims in 2009: East North Central, East South Central, Middle Atlantic, Mountain, South Atlantic and West North Central.
California recorded the largest number of initial claims during 2009 followed by Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia experienced over-the-year annual increases in initial claims; Illinois reported the largest over-the-year increase in 2009 (+89,810), followed by California (+85,548) and Pennsylvania (+54,483). Of the seven states with over-the-year decreases in initial claims in 2009, the largest were reported in Louisiana (-5,566), Mississippi (-3,702) and Kentucky (-2,632). Twenty-six states recorded series highs in mass layoff claimant activity in 2009: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
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