The national unemployment rate averaged 9.1 percent, not seasonally adjusted, in the third quarter of 2011, down from 9.5 percent a year earlier. Private nonfarm payroll employment, not seasonally adjusted, increased by 1.7 percent (1,826,000) over the year.
Industry Distribution of Extended Layoffs
Over the year ending in the third quarter of 2011, the number of extended mass layoff events declined in 13 of the 18 major private nonfarm industry sectors. The transportation and warehousing and the accommodation and food services sectors experienced the largest declines in the numbers of worker separations over the year. Eight of the 21 manufacturing subsectors experienced over-the-year decreases in the number of layoff events.
Both events and separations in the manufacturing sector were at series’ lows in the third quarter of 2011. Thirty-eight percent of manufacturing employers with an extended mass layoff event in the third quarter of 2011 anticipated recalling at least some of the displaced workers.
Administrative and waste service firms had 198 extended mass layoff events and 33,584 separations, primarily due to contract completion. This sector accounted for 16 percent of the layoff events and 18 percent of the related separations in the third quarter. In these events, 55 percent of the employers anticipated recalling at least some of the displaced workers.
Reasons for Extended Layoffs
Business demand factors accounted for 47 percent of the events and related separations in the private nonfarm sector during the third quarter of 2011, primarily as a result of contract completion. Layoffs due to the completion of seasonal work accounted for 23 percent of extended mass layoff events and 21 percent of related separations during the quarter. Over the year, the largest decrease in worker separations occurred in layoffs attributed to seasonal factors.
Movement of Work
In the third quarter of 2011, 35 extended mass layoffs involved movement of work and were associated with 6,216 worker separations, a series low for both figures. Over the year, the number of such events decreased by 16, and the number of separations decreased by 1,337. Movement of work layoffs accounted for 4 percent of total nonseasonal events during the quarter.
Fifty-seven percent of the events related to movement of work were from manufacturing industries. Employers cited organizational changes as the economic reason for layoff in 31 percent of the events involving movement of work. Among workers affected by the movement of work, the largest proportion was in the South.
The 35 events with movement of work for the third quarter involved 49 identifiable relocations of work actions. Employers were able to provide information on the specific number of worker separations for 28 of these actions. Among these
actions, 93 percent were domestic reassignments, and 82 percent involved work moving within the same company.
Fifty percent of the private nonfarm employers reporting an extended mass layoff in the third quarter of 2011 indicated they anticipated some type of recall, up from 45 percent a year earlier. Of those employers expecting to recall workers, 29 percent indicated the offer would be extended to all displaced employees, and 61 percent of employers anticipated extending the offer to at least half of the workers-both percentages reached third quarter series’ lows. Among employers expecting to recall laid-off workers, a series low 58 percent intend to do so within 6 months. Excluding extended mass layoff events due to seasonal work and vacation period, in which 98 percent of the employers expected a recall, employers anticipated recalling laid-off workers in 36 percent of the events.
Size of Extended Layoffs
The average size of a layoff (as measured by the number of separations per layoff event) was 150 workers during the third quarter of 2011. Events were largely concentrated at the lower end of the extended layoff-size spectrum, with 73 percent involving fewer than 150 workers. Conversely, only 4 percent of layoff events involved 500 or more workers.
Initial Claimant Characteristics
A total of 181,777 initial claimants for unemployment insurance were associated with extended mass layoffs in the third quarter. Of these claimants, 15 percent were black,22 percent were Hispanic, 41 percent were women, and 19 percent were 55 years of age or older. In the entire civilian labor force for the same period, 12 percent of all persons were black, 15 percent were Hispanic, 47 percent were women, and 20 percent were 55 years of age or older.
Among the four census regions, the West recorded the highest number of separations due to extended mass layoff events in the third quarter of 2011. Among the nine census divisions, the highest numbers of displaced workers were in the Pacific. Three of the 4 regions and 8 of the 9 divisions registered fewer laid-off workers compared with the third quarter of 2010.
California recorded the largest number of worker separations in the third quarter of 2011, followed by New York and Illinois. Over the year, 28 states reported decreased numbers of separated workers associated with extended mass layoff events during the third quarter, led by New York and Florida. New York accounted for 53 percent of the total over-the-year decline in worker separations.
Eighty-six percent of the initial claimants for unemployment insurance associated with extended mass layoff events in the third quarter of 2011 resided within metropolitan areas. Among the 372 metropolitan areas, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.,reported the highest number of resident initial claimants. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., accounted for 35 percent of the total over-the-year decline in metropolitan area resident initial claims. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif., entered into the highest 10 metropolitan areas in terms of initial claims by residency of claimant during the quarter, replacing Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., from the previous year.