Mass mayhem

People lost their jobs in droves in the first quarter, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a truly stunning and depressing report out today. Mass layoffs due to slack business conditions set a program high since the BLS started keeping track in 1996 and mass layoffs due to financial conditions set a first quarter record. Both categories more than tripled since the first quarter of 2008. Just over one in four employers said they plan to recall at least some workers -- still that's the lowest in the history of these stats.

More than half a million workers lost their jobs in the 3,489 mass layoff events -- that's a 160 people, average, per layoff. Horrible. A year ago, 230,098 lost their jobs in 1,340 first-quarter mass layoffs. The number of mass layoffs reached program highs in 12 out 18 business sectors. 

Here are a few more numbers:

Twenty of those mass layoffs occurred because 3,466 jobs were moved out of the country. I'm not happy about that.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware had their highest first quarter separations since the program began.

Delaware had seven mass layoff events, with 1,509 people losing their jobs -- up from no mass layoffs in the first quarter of 2008.

New Jersey had 105 mass layoffs, with 16,054 losing work -- that's up from 33 mass layoff events in the first quarter 2008.

 Pennsylvania's mass layoffs rose from 75 a year ago to 216 with 32,173 losing work.