Q2 Mass Layoffs Dip

August 26, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Mass layoffs lasting 31 days carried out by US employers in the second quarter of 2004 fell both in terms of the number of actions and the amount of affected employees, the government reported.

The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said that in the April to June 2004 period, employers carried out 1,233 mass layoffs, down 7.9% from the quarter before, while mass layoffs affected 233,852 workers for at least 31 days, down 15.3%. Both the total number of layoff events and the number of separations were sharply lower than in April-June 2003 and were the lowest for a second quarter since 2000, BLS said.

According to the government report, about 11% of the extended mass layoffs and 12% of affected workers were involved in situations where work was moved elsewhere within the same company or outsourced domestically or internationally.Layoffs because of internal company restructuring represented 16% of events and resulted in 35,119 separations, the lowest level for a second quarter since 1998.   Permanent closure of worksites occurred in 13% of all layoffs and affected 30,263 workers, the lowest second-quarter level since 1995, BLS said.

The completion of seasonal work accounted for 37% of all layoffs and 43% of worker separations during the period – the highest share of total separations for any second quarter since data became available in 1995.


Extended mass layoffs occurred in 348 of the 1,197 industries for which data are available for the second quarter 2004.   This is the fewest number of industries to have at least one extended mass layoff in a second quarter since 2000.


Manufacturing industries accounted for 21% of private nonfarm layoff events and 17% of affected workers during April-June 2004. The 39,865 worker separations in manufacturing were the fewest for manufacturing for any quarter since 1995.   Layoffs in this sector were concentrated in food manufacturing (9,830), followed by transportation equipment manufacturing (6,620) and fabricated metal products (3,054).

BLS gathers the data from initial unemployment insurance claims and defines extended mass layoffs as those involving 50 or more employees from the same company out of work for more than 30 days.