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Threshold WARN Act Issues in a Down Economy

November 14, 2008

By Mary Dollarhide and Brit Seifert

Fifty-person-or-more layoffs often trigger the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act (and also possibly individual state mini-WARN statutes, which can even apply to smaller layoffs). These high-impact layoffs are on the rise nationwide. According to the U.S. Labor Department, mass layoffs those affecting at least 50 people from a single employer in a given month surged to 2,269 in September alone their highest level in seven years. Indeed, 157,000 private jobs were lost in the month of October 2008 alone. These layoffs are not confined to predictable industries, like housing or finance. Instead, widely-varying industries are shedding jobs: Layoffs have spread to sock makers, book publishers, airlines and hydraulic-parts makers. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.