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Mass Layoff Statistics

People are asking...

Does the MLS program collect information on offshoring and outsourcing?

Yes. BLS decided to use the MLS program as a vehicle for collecting additional information on offshoring and outsourcing associated with job loss, by adding questions that address movement of work. The term "moving work" means that the company experiencing the layoff has reassigned work activities that were performed at a worksite by the company's employees (1) to another worksite within the company; (2) to another company under formal arrangements within the company; or (3) to another company under formal arrangements at another worksite. The type of work activities subject to movement can include accounting, customer service, cleaning, warehousing, etc.

Questions on movement of work and location are asked for all identified layoff events when the reason for separation is other than "seasonal work" or "vacation period." Seasonal and vacation layoff events were excluded because movement of work appears unlikely.

Questions on the movement of work are asked after the analyst verifies that a layoff in fact occurred and lasted more than 30 days, and obtained the total number of workers separated from jobs, the date the layoff began, and the economic reason for the layoff. If the reason for layoff is other than seasonal or vacation, the employer is asked the following:

(1)"Did this layoff include your company moving work from this location(s) to a different geographic location(s) within your company?"

(2)"Did this layoff include your company moving work that was performed in-house by your employees to a different company, through contractual arrangements?"

A "yes" response to either question is followed by: "Is this location inside or outside the U.S.?" and "How many of the layoffs were a result of this relocation."

Analysis of the data for the first three quarters of 2004 is contained in the research paper, Mass Layoff Statistics Data in the United States and Domestic and Overseas Relocation.

Are companies having mass layoffs identified by name?

No. The identity of the businesses that had the layoffs is completely confidential.

What are the differences between mass layoffs and extended mass layoffs?

Mass layoffs are summaries of information on establishments that had at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a 5-week period. These administrative counts are without regard to layoff duration and are available for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as by industry, for April 1995 through November 2002. Mass layoffs are reported in a monthly news release.

Beginning with first quarter 2004, extended mass layoffs contain information on the layoffs in private sector nonfarm establishments that have at least 50 initial claims filed against them during a 5-week period and where the employer indicates that 50 or more people were separated from their jobs for at least 31 days. Prior to that reference period, extended mass layoff data are available for the total economy. Each of the mass layoff establishments is contacted for information on the total number of persons laid off (separations); the reason for the layoff; status of the specific worksite; and recall expectations. In addition, selected socioeconomic characteristics data on UI claimants—such as gender, age, race, and residency—are available. These characteristics are collected at two points in time—when an initial claim is filed and when the claimant exhausts regular UI benefits. In between these points, the unemployment status of claimants is tracked through the monitoring of certifications for unemployment (continued claims) filed under the regular State UI program. Data are available for 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as by industry. Extended mass layoffs are reported in a quarterly news release.

Does the Mass Layoff Statistics program track all layoffs?

The Mass Layoff Statistics program only tracks and reports on layoffs involving 50 or more people. Many States track smaller size layoffs, however, and might make those data available to users upon request.

What is the industry classification basis for the MLS?

Beginning with the release of data for January 2002 on February 28, 2002, the Mass Layoff Statistics program implemented the 2002 version of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as the basis for the assignment and tabulation of economic data by industry. NAICS is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Due to differences in NAICS and the previously used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) structures, data for 2002 are not comparable to the SIC-based data for earlier years. However, the historical industry series from April 1995 (second quarter 1995 for extended mass layoffs) through the end of 2001 are available on both SIC and NAICS bases.

NAICS uses a production-oriented approach to categorize economic units. Units with similar production processes are classified in the same industry. NAICS focuses on how products and services are created, as opposed to the SIC focus on what is produced. This approach yields significantly different industry groupings than those produced by the SIC approach.

Users interested in more information about NAICS can access the BLS Web page at /bls/naics.htm or the Bureau of the Census Web page at

Does MLS track layoffs in "high-technology industries?"

The NAICS industry classification system does not identify a specific "high-technology industry" group. However, it may be possible for MLS data to be summed for special industry groupings upon request. Please contact us via ">email for details. 


Last Modified Date: January 03, 2007