Mass Layoffs Declining

October 24, 2002 ( - The number of companies putting large blocks of workers on the street at the same time is dropping, according to government data.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said US companies initiated 1,060 mass layoffs during September involving 122,277 workers. That compares with 1,327 mass layoffs involving 160,402 workers the year before.

The year to date figure was also down from 2001, the BLS said. For the January to September period in 2002, both the number of mass layoffs (14,150), and number of people involved (1,567,505), were lower than in January-September 2001 (14,475 and 1,734,530, respectively).

BLS classifies mass layoffs as those involving at least 50 people from the same company.

The BLS said more than 9% of the workers involved in September 2002 were in general freight trucking (11,348), and an additional 6% were in the temporary help services industry (7,587).

Manufacturing industries accounted for 33% of all mass layoffs and 35% of workers involved in September.   A year earlier, layoffs in this sector accounted for 37% of events and 36% of workers involved.

Within manufacturing, the number of workers involved in September was highest in computer and electronic products (5,146, primarily in semiconductors and related devices), followed by transportation equipment (4,959) and food manufacturing (4,688).

Some 6% of all layoffs and 15% of involved workers were in transportation and warehousing, mostly in general long distance freight trucking.   A year earlier, layoffs in this sector accounted for 5% of events and 6% of workers.   Some 13% of the events and 11% of workers in September were from administrative and waste services, mostly in temporary help services.

Compared with September 2001, the largest decreases in initial claims were reported in accommodation services (-18,485), administrative and support services (-8,293), and transportation equipment manufacturing (-6,926).

The largest year-over-year increases in workers involved were reported in truck transportation (+11,026) and in support activities for transportation (+4,117).

September’s report follows mass layoff declines in August. (See  Mass Layoff Figures Continue Tumbling ).