graph layoffsThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that 1,273 mass layoff events occurred in March 2012. The layoffs affected 121,310 employees nationwide.  The number of March events slipped down 20 under February 2012 and but initial unemployment claims increased by 1,847 over the month. Each mass layoff event affected at least 50 employees at a single employer. The national unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged in March at 8.2 percent while nonfarm payroll increased by 120,000 over the month and 1,899,000 over the prior 12-month period.

Average weekly mass layoffs decreased over the year by 2 per week, dropping to 225 in during the month. Average weekly initial claims associated with the mass layoff events decreased over the year by 2,289 to 23,563. Of the 19 major private industry sectors 11 reported increases in average weekly initial unemployment claims, of which the largest increases were found in the information sector. The industries with the most number of nonfarm initial claims for March were temporary help services (11,732 initial claims), food service contractors (9,629 initial claims), school and employee bus transportation (6,815 initial claims), motion picture and video production (6,367 initial claims), and payroll services (2,563 initial claims).

The manufacturing sector accounted for 22 percent of all layoff events and 21 percent of total initial unemployment benefits claims. Most mass layoff events occurring in the manufacturing sector took place in the food and transportation equipment. Regionally, the largest number of initial claims occurred in the West, in March, while two of the four geographical regions reported an annual increase in average weekly initial claims  Northeast and Midwest). The West experienced the largest decline in claims, over the year.

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