Monday, November 12, 2012

BLS: Colorado's extended mass layoffs down in third quarter

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released quarterly data on extended mass layoffs and initial unemployment claims for the third quarter of 2012.

"Extended mass layoffs" are a little different from the mass layoffs that are reported on monthly by the BLS. Specifically, an extended mass layoff is "defined by the filing of 50 or more initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits from an employer during a 5-week period, with at least 50 workers separated for more than 30 days. Such layoffs involve both persons subject to recall and those who are terminated."

This quarterly report focuses a little bit more on permanent and longer-term separations while the monthly statistics track all separations regardless of duration.

The report also tracks initial claims for unemployment insurance associated with the extended mass layoffs.

In Colorado, the trend in both mass layoffs and in initial claims continues downward. As can be seen in the first graph, totals for both claims and layoffs are returning to levels commonly reported during the inter-recession period from 2004 to 2007. Extended mass layoffs during the third quarter of this year were near the lowest levels reported since 2008.

In the second graph, we see the year-over-year changes in initial unemployment claims for both the US and Colorado. During 2010 and most of 2011, the year-over-year change in new claims had consistently been down-year-over-year. This mirrors the recovery period of 2003 and 2004. Over the past year, however, initial claims have been more volatile and have lacked a clear short-term downward trend. In the multi-year trend however,  totals remain well down from 2009's highs.

There is no sign of the layoffs that were a sign of the recession of 2008-2009, but the recent up-and-down in  layoff activity suggests only a moderate, albeit continuing, recovery from the job losses of the most recent recession.

Overall this report offers few surprises. Layoffs and initial unemployment claims are down since 2009 and show slow but bumpy improvement trends.