August Mass Layoffs See Major Improvement

September 23, 2004 ( - Roses were blooming all over when it came to the August mass layoffs picture with sizable drops in both the number of layoffs and the amount of involved workers, the government announced Thursday.

According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 809 mass layoffs (down 61.3% from July’s 2,094) involving 69,037 workers (down 73% from July’s 253,829).   From January through August 2004, the total number of events, at 11,017, and of initial claims, at 1,118,574, were lower than in January-August 2003 (13,205 and 1,316,863, respectively). Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single establishment.

The 10 industries reporting the highest number of mass-layoff initial claims accounted for 23,342 initial claims in August, 34% of the total. Temporary help services, with 4,978 initial claims, and school and employee bus transportation, with 4,718 initial claims, together accounted for 14% of all initial claims in August.


Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector had 24% of all mass layoffs and 26% of all initial claims filed in August – the smallest shares for any August since 1995, when the monthly series began.   A year ago, manufacturing reported 32% of layoffs and 39% of initial claims.   Within manufacturing, the number of involved workers was highest in transportation equipment (2,846, mainly automotive-related), followed by food processing (2,797) and fabricated metal products (2,031).


The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 15% of layoffs and initial claims filed in August, with layoffs mainly in temporary help services.   Temporary help services, at 4,978 initial claims, accounted for more than 7% of all mass layoff initial claims in August.   Twelve percent of all layoff events and 13% of initial claims filed during the month were in retail trade, primarily in general merchandise stores.

Construction accounted for 9% of layoffs and 8% of initial claims during the month, mainly among specialty trade contractors.   Transportation and warehousing accounted for 6%  of events and 7% of initial claims, mostly in school and employee bus transportation.   An additional 5% of events and 7% of initial claims were from the information sector, largely in motion picture and sound recording.


Government establishments accounted for 5% of events and initial claims filed during the month, mostly in elementary and secondary schools.