By the numbers

Tracking the size of government is always a challenge. But a picture of the recent recession's effect on the federal, state and local work force comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics records of what it calls extended mass layoffs'the dismissal of 50 workers or more for 30 days or longer.

According to BLS, the federal government announced 50 mass layoffs last year, down slightly from 51 in 2000. State governments reported 41 mass layoffs last year, compared to 35 in 2000. Local governments implemented 115 mass layoffs in 2001, up from 104 in the preceding year.

The figures covered all categories of government workers, not just IT workers.

Meanwhile, for the private sector's electronic and electrical equipment arena, BLS reported that companies carried out 604 mass layoffs in 2001, compared to 113 in 2000. Some were related to Sept. 11, others to the general collapse in the dot-com and telecommunications sectors.

Still, BLS has added a new layoff category: 'non-natural disaster.'

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