February 17, 2009
Employers initiated 3,140 mass layoff events in the fourth quarter of 2008 that resulted in the separation of 508,859 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days. Extended mass layoff events and separations reached their highest levels in program history (with data available back to 1995).
The total number of layoff events in the fourth quarter 2008 was 1,326 higher than the same period a year earlier, and the number of associated separations increased by 207,267 over the year.
The construction and manufacturing industries experienced record highs in both the number of layoff events and separations for any quarter in program history.
Separations due to business demand reasons more than doubled over the year to 207,609, with those related specifically to slack work/insufficient demand more than tripling to 152,279. Forty-five percent of employers reporting an extended layoff in the fourth quarter of 2008 indicated they anticipated some recall of workers, the lowest fourth quarter proportion since 2001.
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. Data for the fourth quarter of 2008 are preliminary. To learn more, see "Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter of 2008 and Annual Totals for 2008" (PDF) (HTML), news release USDL 09-0151.