Mass Layoffs 3.7% Higher Than Last Year

September 26, 2001 ( - The US economy was battered by another 1,500 mass layoffs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 1,474 mass layoff actions during the month affected 163,263 workers, according to the report.

That was down from July’s count of 2,108 mass layoffs, resulting in 272,308 new initial unemployment insurance claims.

Year-to-date figures are more telling. They show a substantial increase this year, with 13,089 layoff actions, and 1,564,317 initial claims, from 2000?s numbers. Last year saw layoff events totaling 9,554, and initial claims reaching 1,081,738 between January and August.

The monthly data series, which is measured by claims filed for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, covers mass layoffs of 50 or more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the layoffs.

By Industry

In August 2001, manufacturing industries accounted for 41% of all mass layoff events and 49% of all initial claims filed, compared to last year, when layoffs in manufacturing accounted for 34% of events and 36% of initial claims.

Services accounted for 24% of events and initial claims filed in August. Layoffs in services were concentrated in business services, particularly help supply services, and in motion pictures.

One in every 10 layoff events and 9% of initial claims during the month were in retail trade industries, largely in general merchandise, or department stores.

Big Figures

Compared with August 2000, the largest increases in initial claims were reported in electronic and other electrical equipment, where the number increased by 13,536, transportation equipment, where initial claims increased by 9,319, and business services, which saw a 7,718 increase.

The largest over-the-year decrease in initial claims was reported in engineering and management services, where the number of initial claims fell by 4,774.

Regional Differences

The highest number of initial claims due to mass layoffs occurred in the West in August, which say 62,826 claims, largely in business services and motion pictures, the two industries accounting for more than a third of all claimants in the region.

In contrast, the Northeast region registered the lowest number of mass layoff-related initial claims at 24,891.

On a year to date basis, all regions reported increases in mass layoff events and initial claims, with the largest increase occurring in the Midwest, where claims are up by 26,430 for the year.