The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that 1,705 mass layoff events occurred in January 2012. The layoffs affected 141,703 employees nationwide. The number of January events was an increase of 50 over December and equated to an increase of 15,728 initial unemployment claims over December’s number. Each mass layoff event affected at least 50 employees at a single employer. Despite the increase in mass layoffs, non-farm employment increased by 243,000 employees over the month and was up 1,953,000 over the year as the national unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent.
Average weekly mass layoffs decreased over the year by 86 per week, dropping to 426 in January. Average weekly initial claims associated with the mass layoff events decreased over the year by 13,867 to 35,426. Of the 19 major private industry sectors 16 reported decreases in average weekly initial unemployment claims, of which the largest decreases were found in the manufacturing sector. The industries with the most number of nonfarm initial claims for January were temporary help services (13,692 initial claims), school and employee bus transportation (8,165 initial claims), discount department stores (4,225 initial claims), professional employer organizations (3,157 initial claims), highway, street, and bridge construction (2,889 initial claims).
The manufacturing sector suffered the largest percent of mass layoffs in December, accounting for 25 percent of events and 28 percent of total initial unemployment benefits claims. Most mass layoff events occurring in the manufacturing sector took place in the transportation equipment and food. Regionally, the largest number of initial claims occurred in the South, while all four geographical regions reported an annual decrease in average weekly initial claims. The Midwest experienced the greatest decline in claims, over the year.