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Mass Layoff Statistics

Business Functions and Processes in Extended Mass Layoffs

In January 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began the collection of business function as part of the employer interview in the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program. Business function and the related concept of business process provide additional insights into the impact of mass layoffs on firms and workers. Three tables with this information are now provided on the BLS website each quarter as a supplement to the quarterly Extended Mass Layoff news release.


Business functions are the specific activities that a firm performs in order to produce its products or provide its services. During the MLS interview, employers are asked to identify all the functions performed by the workers who were laid off. For example, when a manufacturing plant has a layoff, workers involved in activities such as shipping, inventory control, and administration may be let go in addition to those involved in actual production. Thus, the collection of business function allows for a broader assessment of the impact of the layoffs than the industry classification alone since that classification only reflects the main activity of a firm. Specifically, there are now data on the number and type of business functions affected by all the extended mass layoffs that occurred during a quarter. These counts of functions can be compared over time to determine if the number of functions affected has increased and if the kinds of functions affected has changed.

Since the beginning of collection in 2007, many different business functions have been reported by employers. In order to better understand how these functions are involved in the firm’s operations, a set of nine business processes was identified and used by the MLS program that defines the full range of activities a firm engages in to conduct its business. All functions can be assigned to a process, depending upon the industry of the establishment. The nine processes are grouped into core business processes and support business processes. As with business functions, it is possible to report the number of business processes affected by extended mass layoffs, compare how that number changed over time, and cross tabulate the number of business process by other information collected through the MLS such as reason for layoff and industry.

For a more complete description of the collection and definition of business function and processes in the MLS program, please see the article Business Processes and Business Functions: a new way of looking at employment from the December 2008 issue of the "Monthly Labor Review" (

Changes Beginning with the First Quarter of 2010

Several changes to improve the collection and display of business function and process information were implemented with first quarter 2010 data.

  • The function “gaming services” was added in table 1. “Gaming services” include those activities directly involved with gambling.
  • “Cafeteria services” was combined with the function “food services,” so that responses of either appear as “food and cafeteria services” in table 1.
  • “Clerical services” was combined with the function “administrative services,” so that responses of either appear as “administrative and clerical services” in table 1.
  • The business process “strategic management” was added to tables 2 and 3. Strategic management is defined as those activities carried out at the highest managerial levels, which includes the formation, implementation, and evaluation of cross-functional decisions that enable an organization to achieve long-term objectives.

Current Data


Data in archived reports and tables may have been revised in subsequent releases.

Archived Data



Last Modified Date: May 29, 2013