June 23, 2009 / 3:00 PM / 10 years ago

Number of mass layoffs in U.S. ties record

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of mass layoffs by U.S. employers rose last month to tie a record set in March, according to government data released on Tuesday that suggested the labor market has yet to stabilize.

The Labor Department said the number of mass layoff actions — defined as job cuts involving at least 50 people from a single employer — increased to 2,933 in May from 2,712 in April, resulting in the loss of 312,880 jobs.

It was the largest loss of jobs connected to mass layoffs on records dating to 1995.

While signs have emerged suggesting the 18-month-old U.S. recession has begun to ease, the labor market continues to deteriorate.

The U.S. unemployment rate hit 9.4 percent in May, the highest in nearly 26 years, and economists expect a report on July 2 to show it climbed further to 9.6 percent this month.

The economy has lost six million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Economists polled by Reuters expect the economy shed a further 368,000 jobs in June.

Editing by James Dalgleish

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