The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employers took 1,384 mass layoff actions in December involving 145,648 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month. Each mass layoff involved at least 50 workers from a single employer.

The report notes that mass layoff events in December increased by 52 from November, and associated initial claims increased by 14,021. In December, 351 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 39,081 initial claims. The national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in December, down from 8.7 percent the prior month and from 9.4 percent a year earlier.

The number of mass layoff events in December was 2,433, not seasonally adjusted, resulting in 263,665 initial claims for unemployment insurance, according to the BLS. Over the year, average weekly mass layoff events increased by 4 to 487, and associated average weekly initial claims increased by 6,700 to 52,733, says the report.

In December, the manufacturing sector accounted for 28 percent of mass layoff events and 30 percent of associated initial claims in the private economy. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 25 percent of events and 30 percent of initial claims.

According to the BLS report, among the census regions, the Midwest registered the greatest number of initial claims in December. All four regions experienced over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, with the largest increase occurring in the West.

For all of 2011, BLS reported the total number of mass layoff events, at 18,521, and initial claims, at 1,808,451, declined to their lowest levels since 2007. In 2011, total initial claims in the manufacturing sector declined to a series low 481,702. The manufacturing sector accounted for 26 percent of mass layoff events and 29 percent of associated initial claims in the private economy in 2011, about the same percentages as in 2010, according to the report.


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