Wednesday, May 22, 2013

BLS: Extended mass layoffs down during the first quarter of 2013

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released quarterly data on extended mass layoffs and initial unemployment claims for the first quarter of 2013.

In Colorado, the trend in extended mass layoffs has been generally downward since 2009, with some ups and downs. The downward trend of 2011 appears to have stalled somewhat since mid 2012, with quarterly totals heading back near 2010 totals. Nevertheless, the totals for the first quarter of 2013 were quite low, and among some of the lowest totals recorded since 2008. There were only 5 extended mass layoff events during the first quarter of this year, compared to 8 during the first quarter of last year. There were 569 initial unemployment claims associated with the extended mass layoffs, during the first quarter of 2013. This is compared to 1,158 reported during the first quarter of last year.


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. During the first quarter, claims fell, year over year, in both Colorado and in the US overall.



Historically speaking, the first quarter tends to be a quarter with few claims and mass layoff events, although there was a year over year decline. The overall trend is not as strong downward now as it was during 2010 and 2011, suggesting that the rate of improvement has slowed.

"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.