updated 8/21/2009 1:22:27 PM ET 2009-08-21T17:22:27

The number of mass layoffs in July shrank to the smallest amount in nearly a year, the government said Friday.

Major Market Indices

The Labor Department said mass layoffs, or job cuts of 50 or more by a single employer, fell to seasonally adjusted 2,157 last month, compared with 1,535 in July 2008.

Nearly 207,000 people filed for jobless aid after the layoffs — also the smallest number since last August. There were 152,499 people claiming aid in July 2008.

The manufacturing sector accounted for 37 percent of the layoffs and 46 percent of claims filed. The Midwest was the hardest hit region.

California was the state with the most people fired in mass layoffs last month. In mid-July, for example, networking gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. laid off between 600 and 700 workers at its headquarters in San Jose.

Since the recession began in December 2007, there have been 41,979 seasonally adjusted mass layoffs, affecting nearly 4.3 million people.

The unemployment rate slipped to 9.4 percent in July from 9.5 percent in June, the government said earlier this month, while nonfarm payrolls fell by 247,000. Payrolls were down more than 5.7 million from a year ago.

Without the measures the Labor Department uses to adjust for weather, holidays and the school year, there were 3,054 mass layoffs in July, up 61.5 percent from the same time last year and 21 percent from June.

Using that unadjusted data, three sectors in July had the most former employees filing for jobless aid on records dating to 1995: elementary and secondary schools, construction machinery manufacturing, and professional employer organizations.

And job cuts continue. Two companies announced mass layoffs this week.

Business consultancy Accenture Ltd. said it would cut 336 executive jobs, or 7 percent of its top executive work force. Constrained corporate spending has cut into consultancies' revenue.

Meanwhile, defense and aerospace manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp. said it plans to eliminate 800 jobs in its space systems unit.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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