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Mass Layoff Statistics

Business Functions and Processes in Extended Mass Layoffs in the Third Quarter 2009

Employers initiated 2,043 extended mass layoff events in the fourth quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 321,569 workers from their jobs for at least 31 days, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Extended mass layoff events related to nonseasonal economic reasons totaled 1,280 and involved the separation of 196,788 workers. More complete information on fourth quarter 2009 extended mass layoffs can be obtained from the news release (

The total number of business functions reported by employers in nonseasonal layoff events in the fourth quarter was 2,498, a decrease from 5,277 business functions a year earlier. This decrease of 53 percent was proportional with the over-the-year decrease in nonseasonal extended mass layoff events.

Construction activities and producing goods were cited most often by employers as the main business function—that which involves the most laid-off workers—involved in fourth quarter nonseasonal extended mass layoffs. Secondary functions most often reported by employers for layoff were administrative support, general management, clerical support, first-line supervision, and facility maintenance services. (See table 1.)

Business processes affected by extended mass layoffs during the fourth quarter numbered 2,537, down from 4,525 a year earlier. Over the year, the number of reports decreased for all five core processes, with the largest percentage decreases occurring in product development and in marketing, sales, and account management. All three support processes involved in layoffs decreased, with human resource management having the largest percentage decrease. In the fourth quarter of 2009, more functions were reported per layoff event when organizational change and financial difficulty were cited by employers as the reason for layoff. (See table 2.)

Among the full range of business processes a firm engages in to conduct its business, the most common process affected by nonseasonal extended mass layoffs in the fourth quarter 2009 was operations—the process most directly related to the key activity of the establishment. The next most frequently cited business processes were general management and firm infrastructure, and procurement, logistics, and distribution. Compared to the previous year, the percentage decrease in support processes (-59 percent) for nonseasonal events was larger than the decline in core processes (-53 percent). Support processes among goods-producing industries declined by 64 percent, more than the 52-percent decrease registered in service-providing industries. (See table 3.)


Last Modified Date: February 25, 2010