June 19, 2003
In the first quarter of 2003, 1,508 mass layoff actions were taken by employers that resulted in the separation of 272,133 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days. Both the total number of layoff events and the number of separations were lower than in January-March 2002 and were the lowest for the first quarter since 2000.
Internal company restructuring (bankruptcy, business ownership change, financial difficulty, and reorganization) resulted in a total of 77,997 separations and accounted for 23 percent of extended layoffs. These layoffs were mostly among workers in general merchandise stores.
Layoffs due to the completion of seasonal work resulted in 76,203 separations and accounted for 26 percent of the extended layoff events. Seasonal layoffs were most numerous among workers in agriculture and forestry support services (largely among farm labor contractors) and crop production (mostly in grape vineyards).
Lack of demand for products and services (slack work) resulted in 35,107 separations and accounted for 17 percent of events, mostly in computer and electronic products manufacturing and in transportation equipment manufacturing.
Some of the other reasons for mass layoff events and separations are: overseas relocation, model changeover, domestic relocation, product line discontinued, and weather-related.
These data are from the Mass Layoff Statistics program. "Extended mass layoffs" last more than 30 days and involve 50 or more individuals from a single establishment filing initial claims for unemployment insurance during a consecutive 5-week period. Total includes data that do not meet BLS or state agency disclosure standards. Data are preliminary and subject to revision. Additional information is available in "Extended Mass Layoffs in the First Quarter of 2003" (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL 03-311.