April Mass Layoffs Tick Up

May 29, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - There were 1,576 mass layoffs in April involving 161,095 workers - a slight increase in the number of layoffs over the year before involving fewer people.

According to data from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the total number of mass layoffs on a year to date basis was 6,460 and initial claims was 624,401 – both lower than the same period the year before at 6,496 and 730,002 respectively. April 2003 marked the 11th consecutive month the number of mass layoff initial claims declined on a year-to-date basis. The BLS defines mass layoffs as those affecting at least 50 people from a single employer; the government uses initial jobless benefit applications to measure the layoff statistics.

School and employee bus transportation, with 10,086 claims, and temporary help services, with 9,784, each had over 6% of all initial claims in April, according to the BLS. Manufacturing industries accounted for 32% of all mass layoffs and 39% of all initial claims filed in April. The number of initial claims was highest in transportation equipment (15,454, mainly in automobile manufacturing), followed by food production (8,468) and computer and electronic products (4,985).


The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 12% of layoffs and 10% of initial claims filed during the month, with layoffs mostly in temporary help services.   Eight percent of all layoffs and 9% of initial claims filed during the month were in transportation and warehousing, primarily in school and employee bus transportation.   Eight percent of the layoffs and 7% of the initial claims were from retail trade, mostly from general merchandise stores, largely in discount department stores.   The information sector accounted for 3% of layoffs and 7% of initial claims, largely in motion picture and video production.   Construction accounted for 10% of layoffs and 6% of initial claims during the month, mostly among specialty trade contractors.


Government establishments accounted for 3% of layoffs and 2% of initial claims filed during the month, particularly in executive, legislative, and general government agencies.


Compared with April 2002, the largest decreases in initial claims were reported in transit and ground passenger transportation (-3,118), telecommunications (-2,803), and agriculture and forestry support activities (-2,712).   The largest year-to-date increase in initial claims was reported in transportation equipment manufacturing (+8,026).


Among the four regions, the highest number of initial claims in April due to mass layoffs was reported in the west at 51,815. Administrative and support services and motion picture and sound recording accounted for 31% of all initial claims in that region during the month.   The midwest followed, with 43,466 initial claims; then the south, with 34,922; and the northeast, with 30,892.