August Mass Layoffs Down from July

September 25, 2003 ( - US employers carried out 1,258 mass layoffs in August 2003 affecting 133,839 workers, a significant decrease from the month before, according to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The August numbers represented a 39.7% drop from July’s 2,087 layoffs and a 40.8% drop in the number of affected workers. The mass layoff figures come from new jobless benefits filings over the month where each layoff incident involves at least 50 people from the same company.

The picture was a bit different measured on a year-over-year basis with an increase in both the number of layoffs and the number of people involved as compared to August 2002 layoffs. This marked the first over-the-year increase in mass-layoff initial claims since May 2002.   Since January 1, 2003, the number of layoffs, at 13,205, was higher than for the same period a year ago, while the number of initial claims, at 1,316,863, was lower.

Temporary help services, with 9,787 claims, accounted for over 7% of all initial claims in August.   Five of the 10 industries reporting the highest number of mass-layoff initial claims recorded their peak level for August this year.


The manufacturing sector accounted for 32% of all mass layoffs and 39% of all initial claims in August, little changed from a year ago (34% and 38%, respectively).   Within manufacturing, the number of involved workers was highest in transportation equipment (9,476; mainly automotive-related), followed by textile mills (7,154), machinery (6,606), and food manufacturing (5,803).


The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 13% of layoffs and 12% of initial claims filed in August, with layoffs mostly in temporary help services.   Retail trade accounted for 8% of layoffs and 7% of involved workers during the month, mainly in general merchandise stores.   Some 4% of the layoffs and 7% of the initial claims were from the information sector, largely from motion picture and sound recording.   Transportation and warehousing accounted for 7% of

all mass layoffs and initial claims filed during August, primarily from school and employee bus transportation.   Layoffs in construction accounted for an additional 9% of layoffs and 6% of involved workers, mostly from specialty trade contractors.


Government establishments accounted for 5% of layoffs and 6% of initial claims in August, particularly in local executive, legislative, and general government agencies.   The 7,573 initial claims in this sector were the most for any August since the program began in 1995.


Compared with August 2002, the largest increases in initial claims were reported in textile mills (+5,977) and motion picture and sound recording (+5,409).   The largest over-the-year decrease in initial claims was reported in computer and electronic products (-3,527).