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Mass layoffs hit 18-month low

Employers took 1,726 mass layoff actions in December that resulted in the separation of 153,127 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The number of mass layoff events in December decreased by 87 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims decreased by 10,696. Both figures reached their lowest level since July 2008.

In Dec., 433 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 44,072 initial claims. Both figures decreased over the month to their lowest levels since Nov. and Aug. 2007, respectively.

During the 25 months from Dec. 2007-Dec. 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 51,978, and the associated number of initial claims was 5,242,840. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Re-search.)

In 2009, on a not seasonally adjusted basis, the total numbers of mass layoff events, at 28,030, and initial claims, at 2,796,456, reached their highest annual levels on record.

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