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Mass layoffs up again in February; unemployment jumps to 8.1 percent

In February, employers took 2,769 mass layoff actions that resulted in the separation of 295,477 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer, and as the number of mass layoff events in February increased by 542 from the prior month, the number of associated initial claims increased by 57,575.

Over the year, the number of mass layoff events increased by 1,100, and the associated initial claims increased by 112,439. In February, 1,235 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 152,618 initial claims. Over the month, mass layoff events in manufacturing increased by 497, and initial claims increased by 50,041. Layoff events for all industries and for the manufacturing sector rose to their highest levels on record, with data available back to 1995.

During the 15 months from December 2007 through February 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 28,481, and the number of initial claims (seasonally adjusted) was 2,927,813. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

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