WASHINGTON (April 24, 2012) — Employers took 1,273 mass layoff actions in March involving 121,310 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each mass layoff involved at least 50 workers from a single employer.
Mass layoff events in March decreased by 20 from February, while the number of associated initial claims increased by 1,847. In March, 261 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 26,348 initial claims. Both manufacturing figures were lower when compared to February.
The national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in March, little changed from the prior month but down from 8.9 percent a year earlier. Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 120,000 over the month and by 1,899,000 over the year.
Industry distribution (not seasonally adjusted)
The number of mass layoff events in March was 1,125, not seasonally adjusted, resulting in 117,817 initial claims for unemployment insurance. (See table 2.) Over the year, the number of average weekly mass layoff events decreased by 2 to 225, while associated average weekly initial claims increased by 2,289 to 23,563. Eleven of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, with the largest increase occurring in information.
Over the month, the six-digit industry with the largest number of private non-farm initial claims was in temporary help services.
In March, the manufacturing sector accounted for 22 percent of mass layoff events and 21 percent of associated initial claims in the private economy. Within manufacturing, the numbers of mass layoff claimants were highest in food and in transportation equipment. Twelve of the 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims, with the largest decrease occurring in wood products.
Geographic distribution (not seasonally adjusted)
Among the census regions, the West registered the largest number of initial claims in March. Two of the 4 regions experienced over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, with the largest increase occurring in the West.
Among the states, California recorded the highest number of mass layoff initial claims in March, followed by Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina. Twenty-two states experienced over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, led by California, North Carolina, Ohio and Arkansas.
The monthly data series in this release cover mass layoffs of 50 or more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the layoffs. For private non-farm establishments, information on the length of the layoff is obtained later and issued in a quarterly release that reports on mass layoffs lasting more than 30 days (referred to as “extended mass layoffs”). The quarterly release provides more information on the industry classification and location of the establishment and on the demographics of the laid-off workers. The monthly data series in this release are subjected to average weekly analysis, which mitigates the effect of differing lengths of months. See the Technical Note for more detailed definitions and for a description of average weekly analysis.
The Extended Mass Layoffs news release for the First Quarter 2012 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 16 at 10 a.m.