Business Functions and Processes in Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter 2012

Employers initiated 1,674 extended mass layoff events in the fourth quarter of 2012 that resulted in the separation of 319,639 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 938 and involved the separation of 195,238 workers. More complete information on fourth quarter 2012 extended mass layoffs can be obtained from the news release (www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/mslo_02142013.htm).

The total number of business functions reported by employers in nonseasonal layoff events in the fourth quarter was 2,135, an increase from 1,796 business functions a year earlier. This increase of 19 percent was larger than the 14 percent over-the-year increase in nonseasonal extended mass layoff events, meaning more functions on average were involved in each extended mass layoff event than a year ago.

Construction activities, producing goods, and contracted services 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 human resources, including recruiting; customer service; quality assurance/quality control; and general management. (See table 1.)

Business processes affected by all extended mass layoffs during the fourth quarter numbered 2,186, down from 2,306 a year earlier. Over the year, the number of reports decreased in 2 of the 6 core processes and in 2 of the 3 support processes. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the largest number of processes per event occurred in layoffs due to financial reasons and production specific reasons. (See table 2.)

The most common process affected by nonseasonal extended mass layoffs in the fourth quarter of 2012 was operations—the process most directly related to the key activity of the establishment. Total core and support processes involved in nonseasonal extended mass layoffs increased over the year in goods-producing and remained the same in service-providing industries. Support processes increased only in goods-producing industries. (See table 3.)