The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that 2,433 mass layoff events occurred in December 2011. The layoffs affected 263,665 employees nationwide. The number of December events was an increase of 52 over November and equated to an increase of 14,021 initial unemployment claims over November’s number. Each mass layoff event affected at least 50 employees at a single employer. Despite the increase in mass layoffs, nonfarm employment increased by 200,000 employees over the month and was up 1,640,000 over the year.
Average weekly mass layoffs increased dramatically over the year from 4 per week up to 487 in December. Average weekly initial claims associated with the mass layoff events increased over the year from 6,700 to 52,733. Of the 19 major private industry sectors 10 reported increases in average weekly initial unemployment claims, of which the largest increases were found in the information, administrative and waste services, and manufacturing sectors. The industries with the most number of nonfarm initial claims for December were temporary help services (19,987 initial claims), food service contractors (19,639 initial claims), highway, street, and bridge construction (15,919 initial claims), school and employee bus transportation (15,849 initial claims), and motion picture and video production (11, 109 initial claims).
The manufacturing sector suffered the largest percent of mass layoffs in December, accounting for 28 percent of events and 30 percent of total initial unemployment benefits claims. Most mass layoff events occurring in the manufacturing sector took place in the transportation equipment, food, and textile mills subsectors. Regionally, the largest number of initial claims occurred in the Midwest, while all four geographical regions reported an annual increase in average weekly initial claims. The West experienced the greatest increase in claims, over the year.