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Mass layoffs hit historic high

Employers took 2,690 mass layoff actions in August that resulted in the separation of 259,307 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer.

The number of mass layoff events in August increased by 533 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 52,516. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events increased by 803, and associated initial claims increased by 70,356. Year-to-date mass layoff events (21,184) and initial claims (2,162,202) both recorded program highs through August. In August, 900 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 93,892 initial claims. Over the month, the number of manufacturing events increased by 279, and associated initial claims increased by 21,626. (See table 1.)

During the 21 months from Dec. 2007 through Aug. 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 44,669, and the number of initial claims filed (seasonally adjusted) in those events was 4,556,636. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

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