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Mass Layoff Statistics

Business Functions and Processes in Extended Mass Layoffs in the Third Quarter 2010

Employers initiated 1,297 extended mass layoff events in the third quarter of 2010 that resulted in the separation of 187,091 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 933 and involved the separation of 138,013 workers. More complete information on third quarter 2010 extended mass layoffs can be obtained from the news release (

The total number of business functions reported by employers in nonseasonal layoff events in the third quarter was 1,586, a decrease from 3,110 business functions a year earlier. This decrease of 49 percent was larger than the 47 percent over-the-year decrease in nonseasonal extended mass layoff events, suggesting that fewer functions were involved in extended mass layoff activity than a year ago.

Construction activities and producing goods were cited most often by employers as the main business function—that which involves the most laid-off workers—involved in third quarter nonseasonal extended mass layoffs. Secondary functions most often reported by employers for layoff were administrative and clerical support, general management, and first-line supervision. (See table 1.)

Business processes affected by extended mass layoffs during the third quarter numbered 1,498, down from 2,386 a year earlier. Over the year, the number of reports decreased in four of the five core processes that have data available for the previous year. (Data for strategic management is only available beginning with first quarter 2010 data.) All three support processes involved in layoffs also decreased, with technology and process development having the largest percentage decrease. In the third quarter of 2010, the largest number of processes per event occurred in layoffs due to organizational changes. (See table 2.)

The most common process affected by nonseasonal extended mass layoffs in the third quarter of 2010 was operations—the process most directly related to the key activity of the establishment. Support process involved in nonseasonal extended mass layoffs declined by 63 percent in goods-producing industries and by 47 percent in service-providing industries. In comparison, nonseasonal extended mass layoff events decreased by 57 percent in goods-producing industries and by 36 percent in service producing industries. (See table 3.)