According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of layoffs fell 5.6% to 1,438 in November from October’s 1,523; while the number of affected workers plummeted 12.4% to 138,543 in November, from October’s total of 158,240 (See October Mass Layoffs Head North).
The government defines mass layoffs as those involving at least 50 people from the same organization as measured by new jobless benefit requests.
The number of layoffs and affected workers were both sharply lower than a year ago, with the number of initial claims ended the month at the lowest level for November since 1997. From January through November 2003, both the total number of layoffs – at 17,034 – and the number of affected workers – at 1,696,293 – were lower than the January to November period a year ago (17,803 layoffs and 1,980,893 workers).
Digging deeper into the data, the government said fewer mass-layoff initial claims were filed against employers in temporary help services, payroll services, farm labor, and highway, street, and bridge construction in November 2003 compared with a year earlier.
Highway, street, and bridge construction, with 11,242 workers, and temporary help services, with 7,002 workers, together accounted for 13% of all initial claims in November. The 10 industries reporting the highest number of mass-layoff initial claims accounted for 28% of the total.
The manufacturing sector recorded 28% of all mass layoffs and 35% of all initial claims filed in November. A year ago, manufacturing reported 33% of events and 39% of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants was highest in transportation equipment (9,696) and food processing (8,410).
Construction accounted for 18% of layoffs and 15% of workers, with layoffs mostly in highway, street, and bridge construction. Administrative and waste services accounted for 11% of layoffs and 10% of affected workers during the month, mainly in temporary help services. Ten percent of the events and 7% of the initial claims were from the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector, largely among farm labor contractors and crew leaders.
An additional 5% of all layoffs and initial claims filed during November were from accommodation and food services, primarily among food service contractors.