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Extended mass layoffs in 2008

February 18, 2009

For all of 2008, employers reported 7,818 extended mass layoff actions, affecting 1,383,553 workers. Compared to 2007, the number of events was up 46 percent and the number of separations increased by 43 percent.

Number of separations due to extended mass layoffs, 1997-2008
[Chart data—TXT]

In 2008, employers expected a recall in 42 percent of the mass layoff events, down from 50 percent of events in 2007. Eleven percent of extended events in 2008 were permanent closures, the same proportion as in 2007. Permanent closures were most numerous in the manufacturing industry, primarily in transportation equipment manufacturing, and in retail trade, primarily in general merchandise stores.

In 2008, four major industry sectors reported program highs in terms of extended mass layoff events and separations—construction; finance and insurance; educational services; and accommodation and food services. Manufacturing industries had the largest share of extended mass layoff events and separations (31 percent each).

From 2007 to 2008, the number of extended mass layoff events increased in all seven categories of economic reasons for layoffs. In 2008, job losses related to business demand accounted for the largest proportion of extended mass layoff activity. Events related to business demand increased 69 percent over the year from 1,888 to 3,195 and associated separations nearly doubled from 248,056 to 476,302.

Compared to 2007, all 4 geographic regions reported an increase in workers separated due to extended mass layoffs in 2008, with the largest increase in the Midwest (+149,800). The Midwest reported more workers affected by extended mass layoffs in 2008 (428,283) than any other region.

These data come from the BLS Mass Layoff Statistics program. Learn more in "Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter of 2008 and Annual Totals for 2008" (PDF) (HTML), news release USDL 09-0151. Extended mass layoff events consist of 50 or more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits from an establishment during a 5-week period, with at least 50 workers separated for more than 30 days. Data for 2008 are preliminary.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Extended mass layoffs in 2008 at (visited June 25, 2024).

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