BLS Surveys Mass Layoffs and Plant Closings in 1986

Article excerpt

BLS surveys mass layoffs and plant closings in 1986

The Department of Labor has transmitted to the Congress the first annual report on the Bureau of Labor Statistics permanent mass layoff and plant closing reporting system.1 The report presents the results of the 1986 data collection and analysis as required by Section 462(e) of the Job Training Partnership Act.

Data collected during 1986 show that, for the 11 States that submitted data in the program for the full year, a total of 1,335 layoff events2 occurred in 926 establishments. This resulted in the separation of 274,343 workers from their jobs; 85 percent (233,199) of these workers filed claims for unemployment insurance benefits. In about 10 percent of the layoffs, the plants closed. The 11 States were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The relationships depicted by the mass layoff data should not be considered to be necessarily representative of the Nation as a whole.

The incidence of mass layoffs in manufacturing industries far exceeded that in any other major industry grouping. (See table 1.) About 2 out of 3 manufacturing layoffs occurred in the durable goods sector, with the largest percentage taking place in the machinery industry (29 percent), followed by transportation equipment and electrical equipment (15 percent each). Among nondurable goods industries, 2 out of 3 layoffs were in the food and apparel industries. Among nonmanufacturing industries, establishments in the construction and mining industries were most likely to have layoffs, accounting for 5 out of 10 nonmanufacturing layoffs.

"Slack work' was cited most often (31 percent of the time) by employers as the reason for layoff events. "Seasonal work' accounted for an additional 20 percent of the layoff situations, followed by "contract completion' and "energy-related disruptions.' It is interesting to note that only about 2 percent of the layoffs were directly attributed to "import competition.'

The data available from the mass layoff program not only provide information on the establishments having the layoff events, but also on the characteristics of two groups of workers directly affected by the layoffs--the initial claimants for unemployment insurance benefits and those who have exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits. Initial claimants are those who file for unemployment insurance benefits as the result of some employment termination. …