The number of mass layoffs by U.S. employers rose in April led by manufacturers who shed workers even as the economy began to recover.
The Labor Department said the number of mass layoff events -- defined as job cuts involving at least 50 people from a single employer -- increased by 228 to 1,856 as employers shed 200,870 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The number of mass layoffs in the manufacturing sector totaled 448 resulting in 63,616 initial jobless benefit claims, the department said. That was more than 24,000 higher than the previous month, but well below the 125,000 initial jobless claims in the manufacturing sector a year ago.
The Labor Department said the manufacturing sector accounted for 23 percent of all mass layoffs and 28 percent of the initial claims filed in April.
The U.S. jobs market is lagging the broader economic recovery that started in the second half of 2009. Since December 2007, when the worst recession in 70 years started, the U.S. economy has shed more than 8 million jobs and the latest data suggest it will take some time to make up for those losses.
Monthly data suggest employers are beginning to add jobs, but the overall unemployment rate remained stubbornly high at 9.9 percent in April, up from 9.7 percent the previous month, as discouraged workers started to look for work again.
In April, nonfarm payroll employment increased by 290,000, but was down by 1.381 million from a year earlier.
In the 29 months since the recession began in December 2007, the total number of mass layoff events on a seasonally adjusted basis was 58,793, resulting in a total 5.9 million initial claims for jobless benefits, the Labor Department reported.
(Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)