News Release Information

12-1504-SAN

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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Mass Layoffs in Washington – 2011 Annual Totals

Employers in Washington took 229 mass layoff actions in 2011 that resulted in the separation of 20,988 workers, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See chart 1.) Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 1,642 or 8.5 percent from the previous year. Despite increasing over the year, the number of mass layoff initial claims in 2011 was still 45.1 percent below the peak of 38,207 reached in 2002.

Chart 1. Mass layoff initial claims, Washington, annual totals, 2006-2011

Industry distribution

Of all the industry sectors in Washington, manufacturing experienced the most mass layoff events in 2011 with 48. (See table 1.) This sector also had the largest number of initial claimants at 4,444, making up 21.2 percent of the state’s total. (See chart 1.) Administrative and waste services and construction ranked second (3,298) and third (3,192) highest , respectively, in initial claims during the year. Combined, these three industries accounted for over one-half of all initial claimants in the state in 2011.

Administrative and waste services had the largest increase in mass layoff-related related initial claims from 2010 to 2011 at 1,248, followed by manufacturing (648) and local government (321). In 2010, each of these three sectors had recorded a drop of more than 1,000 claims from the previous year. On a percentage basis, local government experienced the largest over-the-year increase in annual claims, up 65.1 percent; administrative and waste services had the second largest gain, up 60.9 percent. (See table A.)

Table A. Sectors with at least 300 more mass layoff initial claims in 2011, Washington
Sector Net change from 2009–10 Net change from 2010–11

Administrative and waste services

-1,179 1,248

Manufacturing

-3,240 648

Local government

-1,108 321

Of those industry sectors recording a drop in mass layoffs-related initial claims from 2010 to 2011, only two decreased by more than 200—federal government, down 343 or 71.8 percent, and state government, down 201 or 25.7 percent.  Two more sectors, retail trade and construction, were the only others to record a drop in claimants of more than 100 from the previous year.

State Comparisons

Among the states, California recorded the highest number of mass layoff initial claims, 377,413, in 2011. Pennsylvania ranked second with 124,838, followed by New York (119,398) and Florida (79,766). Twenty-nine states experienced over-the-year decreases in total initial claims for the year, led by California (-42,396), Illinois (-19,191), and Florida (-9,010). One state, South Dakota, experienced no change in its initial claims count, while twenty states and the District of Columbia had increases in annual claims from 2010 to 2011, led by North Carolina (22,393) and Pennsylvania (12,270). In three of these states, Arkansas, Nebraska, and North Carolina, initial claims reached a series high in 2011.

Technical Note

The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program is a federal-state program that uses a standardized automated approach to identifying, describing, and tracking the effects of major job cutbacks, using data from each state's unemployment insurance database. Each month, states report on employers which have at least 50 initial claims filed against them during a consecutive 5-week period. These employers then are contacted by the state agency to determine whether these separations lasted 31 days or longer, and, if so, other information concerning the layoff is collected. States report on layoffs lasting more than 1 month on a quarterly basis.

A given month contains an aggregation of the weekly unemployment insurance claims filings for the Sunday through Saturday weeks in that month. All weeks are included for the particular month, except if the first day of the month falls on Saturday. In this case, the week is included in the prior month's tabulations. This means that some months will contain 4 weeks and others, 5 weeks. The number of weeks in a given month may be different from year to year, and the number of weeks in a year may vary. Therefore, analysis of over-the-month and over-the-year change in not seasonally adjusted series should take this calendar effect into consideration.

The MLS program resumed operations in April 1995 after it had been terminated in November 1992 due to lack of funding. Prior to April 1995, monthly layoff statistics were not available.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Definitions.  Employer. Employers in the MLS program include those covered by state unemployment insurance laws. Information on employers is obtained from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, which is administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Industry. Employers are classified according to the 2007 version of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For temporary help and professional employer organization industries, monthly MLS-related statistics generally reflect layoffs related to underlying client companies in other industries. An individual layoff action at a client company can be small, but when initial claimants associated with many such layoffs are assigned to a temporary help or professional employer organization firm, a mass layoff event may trigger.

Initial claimant. A person who files any notice of unemployment to initiate a request either for a determination of entitlement to and eligibility for compensation, or for a subsequent period of unemployment within a benefit year or period of eligibility.

Mass layoff event. Fifty or more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits filed against an employer during a 5-week period, regardless of duration.


Additional information

For personal assistance or further information on the Mass Layoffs Statistics program, as well as other Bureau programs, contact the Western Information Office at (415) 625-2270 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. PT.

Table 1. Mass layoff events and initial claimants for unemployment insurance, Washington, selected sectors, annual totals
Industry Mass layoff events Initial claims for unemployment insurance
2008 2009 2010 2011 2008 2009 2010 2011

Total, all industries (1)

260 325 230 229 26,446 28,539 19,346 20,988

  Total private

249 296 210 212 25,579 25,728 17,593 19,458

    Agriculture forestry fishing and hunting

20 17 23 19 1,487 1,658 1,969 1,877

      Crop production

4 (3) 4 (3) 241 (3) 334 (3)

      Agriculture and forestry support activities

15 15 19 17 1,172 1,502 1,635 1,730

  Total private nonfarm

229 279 187 193 24,092 24,070 15,624 17,581

    Construction

44 51 45 39 3,443 3,998 3,338 3,192

      Construction of buildings

9 10 6 (3) 659 773 438 (3)

      Heavy and civil engineering construction

17 13 17 13 1,395 1,037 1,144 1,122

      Specialty trade contractors

18 28 22 23 1,389 2,188 1,756 1,829

    Manufacturing

73 85 47 48 10,934 7,036 3,796 4,444

      Food

24 30 29 33 2,095 2,437 2,226 2,944

      Wood products

16 13 (3) 7 1,702 986 (3) 773

      Transportation equipment (2)

13 12 7 (3) 5,470 1,199 630 (3)

    Wholesale trade

5 (3) (3) 3 338 (3) (3) 194

    Retail trade

19 38 24 22 1,513 3,504 2,243 2,069

      Food and beverage stores

(3) 7 (3) 4 (3) 618 (3) 302

      General merchandise stores

11 16 12 10 922 1,475 1,271 1,112

    Transportation and warehousing

13 17 15 14 1,389 1,500 1,367 1,463

      Transit and ground passenger transportation

8 8 8 7 955 772 908 936

    Information

6 8 4 (3) 487 768 382 (3)

      Administrative and support services (2)

30 34 22 29 2,479 3,229 2,050 2,609

      Waste management and remediation services

(3) - - 6 (3) - - 689

      Food services and drinking places

11 9 12 9 1,078 881 902 872

    Federal

1 4 5 2 62 294 478 135

    State

7 12 9 7 508 916 782 581

    Local

3 13 6 8 297 1,601 493 814

Footnotes:
(1) Total includes all industries including those not listed in the table.
(2) Data beginning in 2008 are not strictly comparable to prior years due to a change in NAICS versions.
(3) Data do not meet BLS or state agency disclosure standards.

Last Modified Date: July 24, 2012