Mass Layoffs Up Again

job interview Even though the national unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent to 9 percent in January, the number of mass layoffs increased. Employers took 1,534 mass layoff actions last month involving 149,799 workers, according to the most recent numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A "mass layoff" involves an event where at least 50 workers are let go from a single employer.

The number of mass layoff events in January (2,558) increased by 51 from December, and the number of associated initial unemployment benefits claims rose by 11,807. The good news -- if there can be any when you're talking about mass layoffs -- is that there were 302 fewer this January than there were in January 2010, and associated initial claims decreased by 32,216. So we're better off than we were last year at this time, but worse off than we were last month.

By industry

It should come as no surprise that the industry with the largest number of initial claims in January 2011 was temporary help services, thanks to the post holiday layoffs. Many will be relieved to know, however, that manufacturing had the biggest decrease in mass layoffs. In fact, 11 of the 19 major industry sectors in the private economy reported over-the-year declines in initial claims.

By location

Three of the four regions experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims due to mass layoffs in January, with the Midwest registering the biggest decrease. But when you go state-by-state, California was in the deepest trouble, recording the highest number of initial unemployment claims in January, followed by New York and Pennsylvania. Thirty-two states experienced over-the-year decreases in initial claims, led by Michigan, Ohio and Illinois -- where some of the nation's largest industrial centers are located.

So while people are still getting laid off on the East and West Coast, at least middle America is doing better -- and that's a very good sign.

Next:Companies Hiring This Week

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