Gary Simpson, an employee at the Virginia Employment Commission office, posts job postings at the office in Alexandria, Virginia November 6, 2009.REUTERS/Molly Riley

WASHINGTON - The number of mass layoffs reported by U.S. employers fell last month from September, a government report showed on Friday, suggesting job losses were close to bottoming.

The Labor Department said the 2,127 mass layoff actions reported in October -- defined as job cuts involving at least 50 people from a single employer -- was down 434 from September. The layoffs affected 217,182 workers, down from 248,006 in September. Mass layoff events were down by 77 from October 2008.

Despite the decline in October, the year-to-date number of mass layoffs hit a record 25,872. A total of 619 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing last month, the department said.

The battered labor market has been showing gradual signs of stabilizing after a surge in job losses early this year. It is being watched for clues on the strength and sustainability of the economic recovery that started in the third quarter.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose to a 26-1/2-year high of 10.2 percent in October. Since December 2007, when the recession officially began, a total of 49,357 mass layoff events have been reported, the department said.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)