Stormy Weather: Mass Layoffs Down, Initial Unemployment Claims Up

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Snow Storm Currently unemployment news is all over the map, with some being positive and others being negative. According to the latest reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of mass layoffs in December was down to its lowest level in almost three years. On the other hand, there were more initial claims for jobless benefits last week than most expected, and at least four states are claiming it's due to snow.

You can just imagine how the numbers from this week will look if that's the case.

Mass layoffs, which involve at least 50 people from a single employer, numbered only 1,483 and involved only 137,992 workers in December -- the lowest level since April 2008. That's 96 fewer mass layoffs than the month before. The number of associated initial unemployment claims decreased by 10,808 from November to December.

Meanwhile, initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged by 51,000 last week to 454,000 -- the highest since late October. That was the largest weekly increase in a very long time -- since September 2005, to be exact. The rise far surpassed economists' expectations for a slight gain to 405,000. That would indicate that rather than being fired en mass, employers are letting workers go in smaller numbers.

The number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid also increased to 94,000, totaling to 3.99 million in the week that ended Jan 15. The number of people on emergency unemployment benefits rose 63,886 to 3.78 million.

A total of 9.4 million people were claiming unemployment benefits at last count.

Extended benefits were available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, during the week ending Jan. 8.

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