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Mass layoff events reached a record high during the second quarter of 2009 with the manufacturing sector accounting for 31% of the separations, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers initiated 2,994 mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2009 resulting in the separation of 534,881 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days.
Second quarter program highs in the number of separations were recorded in 7 of 18 major industry sectors, all four geographic regions, and fourteen states. Thirty-eight percent of employers reporting an extended layoff in the second quarter of 2009 indicated they anticipated some type of recall, down from 51% a year earlier, and was the lowest proportion of anticipated recalls for a second quarter in program history (with data available back to 1995).
The national unemployment rate averaged 9.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted, up from 5.2 percent a year earlier. Private nonfarm payroll employment, not seasonally adjusted, decreased by 5 percent (-5.61 million) over the year
Manufacturing firms reported 932 extended mass layoff events involving 166,240 separations in the second quarter of 2009. Manufacturing industries were responsible for 31 percent of private nonfarm extended layoff events and related separations in the second quarter of 2009. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 22 percent of events and 18 percent of separations.
The largest numbers of separations within manufacturing were associated with transportation equipment manufacturing (57,136, mostly associated with automobile and light truck manufacturing) and machinery manufacturing (18,096). Six of the 21 manufacturing industry sub-sectors reached second quarter program highs in terms of the numbers of separations- printing and related support activities; plastics and rubber products; nonmetallic mineral products; primary metals; fabricated metal products; and machinery.
In the second quarter of 2009, seven major industry sectors reported second quarter program highs in terms of the number of worker separations- mining; construction; wholesale trade; transportation and warehousing; real estate and rental and leasing; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services.
Separations related to business demand factors more than doubled over the year from 79,925 to 202,151, accounting for 45% of the layoff events. Within the business demand category, employers citing slack work/insufficient demand/nonseasonal business slowdown had the largest over-the-year increase.