In the latest sign that the long-promised economic recovery may be a mirage, mass layoffs of workers has surged to a three-year high, fed by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and firms worried about the impact of new government regulations, including Obamacare.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November saw 1,759 "mass layoff actions" from firms of 50 workers or more. Some 173,558 workers received pink slips.

The huge number is a dramatic reversal of a slow, three-year decline in mass layoffs. In November 2009, there were 1,757 "events," hitting 164,454 workers. The last time the number of those being laid off topped November was October of 2009.

The bureau said in a release last Friday that mass layoff events increased by 399 over October, and "reflect the impact of Hurricane Sandy on workers in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania."

Unstated: Companies have started laying off workers out of concern about the impact of federal legislation, including Obamacare. One company, Stryker Corporation of Denver, a major donor to President Obama and Democratic campaigns, is laying off about 1,000 workers due to a new excise tax in Obamacare, according to the Colorado Observer.