March 2011

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Labor Market Information


What Constitutes a Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) Event?

When 50 or more initial UI claims are filed against a single employer in a five-week period, this is counted as a “potential” MLS event. From administrative data the MLS program identifies the industry of the employer, and the demographics of UI claimants, such as age, race, and gender. It should be noted that some layoffs may not be captured by the MLS program. If, for example, a firm laid off 55 workers and only 49 filed claims for unemployment insurance, that would not be considered a mass-layoff event. Or, if a firm staggered its layoff over a longer period of time, so that the 50 claims were spread out over six or more weeks, it would not be an event.

Private nonfarm firms are contacted by phone to verify whether a layoff actually occurred and whether the layoff lasted more than 30 days. Layoffs meeting those criteria are called “extended mass layoffs.” Analysts conduct a structured interview and collect information on the layoff, including the number of employees laid off, the reason for the layoff, and the recall expectations of the employer. Employers are also asked to report the business function of laid-off employees. Business function refers to the employees’ main role within the company, such as sales, computer support, warehousing, or clerical support. Finally, employers are asked whether the layoff involved movement of work. One example of movement of work would be if an employer closed a factory in a certain state and opened a new one in another state or country.

Information from individual employers is kept confidential, and released only as summary statistics. With Wyoming’s small number of layoff events, the amount of publishable data at the state level is quite limited. However, data on mass layoffs in Wyoming are included in national statistics which are published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov/mls/.

Last modified by Michael Moore.