Mass Layoffs: Six Things You Need to Know


The latest mass layoff numbers were just released by the U.S. government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, and believe it or not, they're actually somewhat positive. Now keep in mind that a mass layoff is defined by 50 or more workers being released from the same company. Still, the number of mass layoff events in May decreased by 444 from the prior month, and the number of associated with initial unemployment claims decreased by 65,081.

Here's the breakdown, and what it means to you:

1. If you're in manufacturing, you're more likely than ever to keep your job.

In May, 266 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 22,577 initial claims. Both figures declined over the month to their lowest levels since the government began keeping records in 1995. The manufacturing sector accounted for 18 percent of all mass layoff events and 16 of percent initial claims filed in May 2010. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 37 percent of events and 43 percent of initial claims.

2. Your outlook is not as bright if you're a food service contractor.

That's the industry with the largest number of initial unemployment claims in May -- 10,887. Still, that's not as many initial claims filed in the same industry last May: 11,216.

3. If you're in education or teleproduction and postproduction, you were more likely to take a hit last month.

Of the 10 industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, teleproduction and postproduction services, elementary and secondary schools, junior colleges, and colleges and universities reached new highs for the month of May.

4. California still seems cursed.

California recorded the highest number of initial claims in May, followed by Texas, Florida, and Illinois. Forty-four states experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims, led by Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.

5. There were fewer mass layoffs all over the country.

All four regions and all nine divisions experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly initial claims due to mass layoffs in May. Among the four census regions, the Midwest and South registered the largest over-the-year declines in average weekly initial claims.

6. 2010 looks better than 2009 did at this time last year.

Over the year, the number of average weekly mass layoff events decreased by 209, and associated average weekly initial claims decreased by 27,092. Both average weekly mass layoffs and initial claimants reached their highest May levels in program history in 2009.

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