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Labor Department Reports Lots of Layoffs, Rehiring Still Slow

Wall Street Journal

Posted on 13 Aug 2009

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The U.S. Labor Department announced today that mass layoffs were still rampant in the second quarter of 2009, and fewer employers said they had plans to rehire their laid-off workers.

Employers made 2,994 mass layoffs last quarter, according to the Labor Department, eliminating 534,881 workers from their jobs. That’s more than 70% higher than the 1,756 mass layoff events in the same period last year, as the economy continued to weaken through the end of 2008 and into the beginning of this year.

The mass layoffs survey, which comes out quarterly, measures layoffs of 50 or more people from a single employer that are out of work for at least 31 days.

Employers said business demand was the reason for the layoffs in nearly 45% of cases. The vast majority of those were caused by slack work, insufficient demand or a non-seasonal business slowdown.

The worse news could be that just 38% of those employers that had mass layoffs said they expected to recall some of their workers, down from 51% a year earlier. It’s the lowest portion of anticipated second-quarter recalls since 1995, the earliest the data is available.

Most of the employers that said they planned on rehiring some of their laid off workers expect to do so in the next six months.