December and 2004 mass layoffs lower than previous years

January 27, 2005

In December 2004, employers took 1,614 mass layoff actions, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single establishment, and the number of workers involved totaled 161,271. The number of events was the lowest for any December since 1999, and the number of initial claims was the lowest for any December since 1995 when data became available.

The layoff events in December bring the total for all of 2004 to 15,980 and the total number of initial claimants from such events to 1,607,158. The annual totals were lower than in 2003 (18,963 events and 1,888,926 initial claims) and were the lowest annual totals for events since 2000 and for initial claims since 1999.

The manufacturing sector accounted for 27 percent of all mass layoff events and 31 percent of all initial claims filed in December. These were the smallest shares for manufacturing in any December since the monthly series began in 1995. A year ago, in December 2003, manufacturing comprised 34 percent of events and 40 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, the number of claimants was highest in transportation equipment (12,547, mostly in travel trailer and camper manufacturing), followed by food processing (6,309), and electrical equipment and appliance manufacturing (3,741).

Manufacturing accounted for 29 percent of all mass layoff events and 35 percent of initial claims filed during 2004. These were the lowest shares of events and initial claims in manufacturing for any year which data are available. In 2003 manufacturing accounted for 32 percent of events and 39 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, initial claim filings in 2004 were most numerous in transportation equipment (163,026), followed by food processing (82,114), and fabricated metal products (30,672). The largest over-the-year decrease in initial claims in manufacturing occurred in machinery manufacturing (-31,963) and computer and electronic products (-25,658). The largest over-the-year increase in initial claims occurred in printing and related support activities (+558).

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