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U.S. mass layoffs continue to fall

Employers initiated 2,043 mass layoff events in the fourth quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 321,569 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of fourth quarter 2009 events decreased from last year, following 12 consecutive quarters of over-the-year increases.

A year earlier, the number of events, at 3,582, reached a record high for any fourth quarter (with data available back to 1995).

Permanent worksite closures accounted for 8 percent of all events and separations, the lowest proportion of separations due to closures in program history. Manufacturing firms reported their lowest percentage of separations (26 percent) for any fourth quarter on record. The proportion of women who filed for notice of unemployment during the quarter recorded a program low 29 percent.

Fourth quarter 2009 layoff data are preliminary and are subject to revision.

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