WASHINGTON (Aug. 9, 2012) — Employers in the private non-farm sector initiated 1,476 mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2012 that resulted in the separation of 262,848 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Over the year, total extended mass layoff events and associated worker separations were down from 1,810 and 317,546, respectively. In 2012, total events reached their lowest second quarter level since 2007, while manufacturing sector events declined to their lowest level for any quarter in program history (with data available back to 1995). The completion of seasonal work accounted for 44 percent of the total extended mass layoff events during the quarter. Second quarter 2012 layoff data are preliminary and are subject to revision.
Over the year ending in the second quarter of 2012, the number of private non-farm extended mass layoff events declined in 15 of the 18 major industry sectors, with the largest decreases occurring in accommodation and food services and in manufacturing. Total manufacturing events declined over-the-year from 263 to 180, their lowest level for any quarter in program history. Sixteen of the 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in the number of layoff events.
The construction sector had 194 extended mass layoff events and 21,825 separations, primarily because of contract completion. This sector accounted for 13 percent of the layoff events and 8 percent of the related separations during the second quarter of 2012.
Reasons for extended layoffs
Layoffs because of the completion of seasonal work accounted for 44 percent of extended mass layoff events and 51 percent of related separations in the private non-farm sector during the second quarter of 2012. Business demand factors, primarily contract completion, accounted for 32 percent of the events and 27 percent of related separations during the quarter.
Movement of work
In the second quarter of 2012, 36 extended mass layoffs involved movement of work and were associated with 7,506 worker separations. Forty-seven percent of the events related to movement of work were from manufacturing industries. Employers cited organizational changes as the economic reason for layoff in 58 percent of the events involving movement of work. Among workers separated by the movement of work, the largest proportions were in the Midwest.
The 36 events with movement of work for the second quarter involved 42 identifiable relocations of work actions. Employers were able to provide information on the specific number of worker separations for 25 of these actions. Among these actions, most were domestic reassignments and involved work moving within the same company.
Sixty-four percent of the private non-farm employers reporting an extended mass layoff in the second quarter of 2012 anticipated recalling at least some of the displaced workers–the highest second quarter percentage since 1998. Of those employers expecting to recall workers, 44 percent indicated the offer would be extended to all displaced employees and 77 percent anticipated extending the offer to at least half of the workers. Among employers expecting to recall laid-off workers, 75 percent intend to do so within six months. Excluding extended mass layoff events due to seasonal work and vacation period, employers anticipated recalling laid-off workers in 38 percent of the events.
Size of extended layoffs
The average size of a layoff (as measured by the number of separations per layoff event) was 178 workers during the second quarter of 2012. Events were largely concentrated at the lower end of the extended layoff-size spectrum, with 67 percent involving fewer than 150 workers. Conversely, only 6 percent of layoff events involved 500 or more workers.
Initial claimant characteristics
A total of 221,997 initial claimants for unemployment insurance were associated with extended mass layoffs in the second quarter of 2012. Of these claimants, 18 percent were black, 18 percent were Hispanic, 53 percent were women, and 25 percent were 55 years of age or older. In the entire civilian labor force for the same period, 12 percent of all persons were black, 16 percent were Hispanic, 47 percent were women, and 21 percent were 55 years of age or older.
Among the four census regions, the West recorded the highest number of extended mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2012. Among the nine census divisions, the highest number of mass layoff events was in the Pacific. All regions and 8 of the 9 divisions registered fewer extended mass layoff events compared with the second quarter of 2011.
California recorded the largest number of extended mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2012, followed by Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York. Over the year, 38 states reported decreased numbers of extended mass layoff events for the second quarter. The largest declines were in California, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
Eighty-two percent of the initial claimants for unemployment insurance associated with extended mass layoff events in the second quarter of 2012 resided within metropolitan areas. Among the 372 metropolitan areas, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., reported the highest number of resident initial claimants.