The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that employers in December conducted roughly 1,380 “mass layoffs,” incidents in which more than 50 workers lose their jobs. That happened to about 145,000 Americans last month, according to new filings for unemployment benefits.
That figure seems high, but compare it to February 2009, the height of the recession. Back then more than twice as many mass layoffs occurred, affecting 326,000 employees — including 145,000 in the manufacturing sector alone.
This quick chart, made with Google Docs, shows how these incidents have slowly declined over the months since (see larger, interactive version):
This chart shows how such incidents spiked in 2001 and 2009 — years in which the U.S. economy struggled (see larger, interactive version):