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Oregon Mass Layoffs decreasing from 2009 highs

June 23, 2011

By Oregon Employment Department,

The MLS program designates different types of layoffs. The most general is an MLS Layoff Event, which occurs when at least 50 employees of a particular employer file an initial claim for unemployment insurance benefits in a five week or less period. The program contacts these employers to gather additional information about the layoff event. If the employer verifies that at least 50 employees have been laid off for a period of at least 30 days, these events are designated Extended Mass Layoff Events.

Though the program’s primary focus is on the verified Extended Mass Layoffs and the number of employees caught up in them (separations), most events are not extended events but of shorter duration. Whether brief furloughs, shift rescheduling, maintenance shutdowns, or any of many other possibilities, most MLS Layoff Events are not Extended Events and the total number of all layoff events, extended or shorter, makes a good indicator of the general level of disruptions in the workplace. At the same time, the proportion of Extended Layoffs to all Layoff Events (MLS Realization Rate) can serve as an indicator of the magnitude and duration of job losses occurring due to mass layoff actions.

Mass layoffs in Oregon, at record high levels in 2009 both in the number of mass layoffs and the magnitude of these layoffs, continued a return to pre-recession levels in 2010. Confirmed layoff events, and the subsequent separations of workers from their jobs, fell to near pre-recession levels.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Mass Layoff Statistics program (MLS) reports that in 2010 Oregon experienced 94 confirmed mass layoff events which affected 20,450 workers. Both numbers are slightly higher, about 5 percent, than pre-recession averages.

 

Oregon Layoffs Continue to Fall From Record Levels

Though improved, Oregon’s mass layoff numbers “wobbled” a bit midway through 2010. As displayed in Table 1, layoff events, confirmed mass layoffs and separations jumped noticeably in the second quarter, and again in the third quarter, before resuming a downward trend in the last quarter of the year.

The numbers in the second quarter were uncomfortably high, with confirmed mass layoff events and the accompanied separation well above average. This increase followed an encouraging period of decline with confirmed layoffs falling from the record levels of the winter of 2008 and 2009.

This jump in layoffs occurred amidst speculation at that time about a possible “double-dip” recession. Some warned the slow and stubborn economic recovery had stalled.

At least in Oregon, these fears faded throughout the fall when Oregon’s nonfarm employment numbers began to steadily improve, an improvement that has continued in 2011.

During this period of rising employment, mass layoff activity in Oregon reversed from the shaky mid-year numbers of layoffs and separation and resumed declining. Following an uncomfortable summer, mass layoffs in Oregon returned to levels at, and even below, pre-recessionary averages.

Currently, Oregon has experienced two consecutive quarters where total layoff events are 25 percent below the average for the respective quarters.

 

Table 1
Oregon MLS Events Since 4th Quarter of 2007
Year Quarter Total MLS Events Extended Events Separations Total MLS Events as Percent of Period Average Realization Rate (Oregon Average 31%)
2007 4 82 24 6,535 95% 29%
2008 1 75 11 1,913 94% 15%
2008 2 63 27 6,541 102% 43%
2008 3 68 19 4,494 133% 28%
2008 4 139 73 13,668 161% 53%
2009 1 152 73 12,897 191% 48%
2009 2 117 57 11,445 189% 49%
2009 3 77 26 3,001 151% 34%
2009 4 90 33 6,407 104% 37%
2010 1 68 22 3,736 86% 32%
2010 2 78 30 7,966 126% 38%
2010 3 57 19 3,122 111% 33%
2010 4 65 23 5,626 75% 35%
2011 1 60 19 1,898 75% 32%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Mass Layoff Statistics Program

Around the Region and Around the Country

When speaking of mass layoffs, Oregon’s numbers continue to improve quicker than most neighboring states in the western United States. The West overall, like Oregon, recorded declining numbers of layoff events throughout the last year.

At this time only Arizona appears to be experiencing layoff events at a much higher than average rate, while Washington remains close to the state’s pre-recession average (Table 2).

Even high unemployment and hard hit California and Nevada appear to be improving, at least in terms of the number of layoffs occurring. These states, along with Oregon and Idaho, have seen the number of layoff events occurring at rates below their state average, and at a rate much lower than the national average.

As for the various regions of the country, the Western United States along with the Midwest appear to be improving quicker than other parts of the country, with the South and the Northeast still experiencing higher than average numbers of layoff events (Table 3).

 

Table 2
Total MLS Layoff Events as Percent of Period Average
Year Period U.S. Oregon Washington Idaho California Nevada Arizona
2007 4 99% 95% 84% 91% 96% 92% 56%
2008 1 99% 94% 86% 88% 98% 110% 52%
2008 2 109% 102% 98% 124% 102% 152% 114%
2008 3 122% 133% 112% 114% 123% 154% 126%
2008 4 162% 161% 156% 199% 149% 181% 225%
2009 1 210% 191% 175% 165% 145% 253% 385%
2009 2 195% 189% 143% 124% 147% 322% 227%
2009 3 152% 151% 162% 114% 145% 214% 230%
2009 4 119% 104% 109% 122% 111% 153% 188%
2010 1 130% 86% 97% 106% 103% 163% 200%
2010 2 118% 126% 78% 108% 107% 152% 192%
2010 3 99% 111% 103% 103% 102% 109% 96%
2010 4 99% 75% 104% 99% 101% 137% 188%
2011 1 110% 75% 102% 73% 89% 58% 170%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Mass Layoff Statistics Program
Table 3
Total MLS Layoff Events as Percent of Period Average
Year Period U.S. Oregon Northeast South Midwest West
2007 4 99% 95% 108% 95% 100% 95%
2008 1 99% 94% 112% 102% 92% 97%
2008 2 109% 102% 110% 109% 117% 104%
2008 3 122% 133% 113% 133% 115% 124%
2008 4 162% 161% 133% 195% 162% 156%
2009 1 210% 191% 219% 264% 217% 165%
2009 2 195% 189% 195% 219% 224% 159%
2009 3 152% 151% 176% 142% 145% 153%
2009 4 119% 104% 122% 138% 106% 118%
2010 1 130% 86% 150% 152% 125% 108%
2010 2 118% 126% 123% 133% 103% 115%
2010 3 99% 111% 122% 102% 77% 105%
2010 4 99% 75% 99% 125% 80% 104%
2011 1 110% 75% 137% 138% 94% 90%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Mass Layoff Statistics Program

Summary

In 2010, after a midyear pause, the number of mass layoffs in Oregon began to decline from record levels in the fall and winter of 2008 to 2009. The improvement appears to be accelerating with the number of layoff events, confirmed extended mass layoffs, and employees separated from their jobs all well below the levels reached at the depth of the recession. All these measures approach or exceed pre-recessionary averages.

The improvement is obviously welcome, and corresponds with a general improvement throughout the Western region of the United States and compares favorably with other parts of the country.

 

  
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