Employers took 1,570 mass layoff actions in February that resulted in the separation of 155,718 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on March 23. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in February fell by 191 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 26,543. Both events and initial claims have decreased in five out of the last six months. In February, 376 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 43,100 initial claims. Both figures declined over the month to their lowest levels since August 2007.

During the 27 months from December 2007 through February 2010, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 55,309, and the associated number of initial claims was 5,580,819. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in February 2010, seasonally adjusted, unchanged from the prior month but up from 8.2 percent a year earlier. In February, non-farm payroll employment decreased by 36,000 over the month and by 3,297,000 from a year earlier.

Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
The number of mass layoff events in February was 1,183 on a not seasonally adjusted basis; the number of associated initial claims was 102,818. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events decreased by 1,079, and associated initial claims decreased by 115,620. Fifteen of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year decreases in initial claimants, led by manufacturing (-72,860).

The manufacturing sector accounted for 24 percent of all mass layoff events and 30 percent of initial claims filed in February 2010. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 42 percent of events and 47 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants in February was greatest in transportation equipment, followed by food, machinery and wood products. All 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by machinery (-12,455) and transportation equipment (-12,336).

The six-digit industry with the largest number of initial claims in February 2010 was temporary help services. Of the 10 detailed industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, light truck and utility vehicle manufacturing; supermarkets and other grocery stores; and managing offices reached program highs for the month of February.