June 1998, Vol. 121, No. 6
Labor month in review
Fewer workers on extended mass layoff
College enrollment resumes uptrend
The June Review
The Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan forum of business executives, university presidents, and labor leaders, has identified upgrading worker skills as the Nations primary challenge over the next decade. Work-related learning and employer-provided training are one set of tools for bridging the gap between todays skill levels and the skills demanded of an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy. The focus section on training uses two very specialized data sets to explore who participates in training, how often firms are providing training, and how intense their training efforts are.
Harley Frazis, Maury Gittleman, Michael Horrigan, and Mary Joyce introduce Monthly Labor Review readers to the results of SEPT95, a new and very sophisticated survey of more than 1,400 business establishments and a randomly-selected sample of employees of the establishment that responded to the survey. This linked employer-employee design allows them to capture consistent data on the intensity of training, the mix of formal and informal instruction, and the types of skill learned. They found that more than 90 percent of establishments had provided training in the past 12 months and close to 70 percent of employees in those establishments reported receiving some formal training in the same period.
Joseph E. Hight explores data from the 1991 National Household Education Survey to discover that a substantial and rising number of workers participate in part-time adult education. Participation among young adults is greater among workers that already have the higher levels of formal academic attainment.
Thomas Boustead examines the projected effect of rebasing calculations of the contributions of the components of gross domestic product to overall growth to a base year in the middle of the Bureaus 19962006 projection period. He finds that using the 2001 base enhances the significance of the services component of the estimates, compared with its contribution to growth calculated in 1992 dollars.
Tyler D. Hartwell, Paul D. Steele, and Nathaniel F. Rodman extend a November 1996 article on workplace drug testing to similar tests for alcohol use. While alcohol testing is less prevalent than drug testing, it is becoming more common. Like drug testing, alcohol testing is more likely to be employed in larger establishments and is most common in the transportation industry.
Fewer workers on extended mass layoff
In the fourth quarter of 1997, there were 1,637 mass layoff actions, compared with 1,913 mass layoffs in the fourth quarter of the previous year. The layoffs in October through December of 1997 resulted in 297,247 workers being separated from their jobs for more than 30 days. In the fourth quarter 1996 layoffs, employers reported 412,486 workers on extended layoff.
In the fourth quarter of 1997, 56 percent of the separations were attributed to "seasonal work." Such layoffs were most numerous among workers in agricultural services, such as farm labor contacting, and food and kindred products manufacturing, especially canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. "Contract completion" was cited in 12 percent of separations, most frequently in heavy construction, help supply services, and motion picture and production. Layoffs due to internal company restructuringbusiness ownership change, bankruptcy, financial difficulty, or reorganizationaccounted for 13 percent of all separations and were most frequent among manufacturing industries.
The Mass Layoff Statistics program is a Federal-State cooperative program which deploys a standardized, automated approach to using each States unemployment insurance data base to identify, describe, and track the effects of major job cutbacks. Establishments with at least 50 claims filed against them in a consecutive 5-week period are contacted by the State employment security agency to determine whether these separations are of at least 30 days duration. If so, the total number of separations, the reason for the action, and other data about the establishment and the affected employees are obtained.
For additional information, see news release USDL-98137, Extended Mass Layoffs in the Fourth Quarter of 1997.
College enrollment resume uptrend
Two-thirds of 1997s high school graduates enrolled in colleges or universities that fall. This proportion has risen by 5 percentage points in the past 2 years, after remaining steady at about 62 percent from 1992 to 1995. Young women are more likely to go on to college in the fall after graduating from high school than are young men70.3 percent versus 63.5 percent. Two-thirds of the college matriculants were attending 4-year institutions; one-third were in 2-year colleges. Almost half (46 percent) of all college enrollees also worked or looked for work.
For additional information, see news release USDL 98171, College Enrollment and Work Activity of 1997 High School Graduates.
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