US layoffs background


2 Aug 2009.

There are three data series that are occasionally cited for layoff data: “Job losers” from the BLS Current Population Survey, “Layoffs and discharges” from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and “Mass Layoff Statistics” from the Unemployment Compensation system. Layoffs are inherently more noisy than, say, the unemployment rate or unemployment compensation claims counts, and probably do not add too much to one's understanding of the employment situation.


  • Overview (2 Aug 2009) There is BLS data on layoffs in three different places.
    • CPS job losers: The Current Population Survey is a household survey that asks a sample of individuals about their current status. It includes a count of “Job losers”, “Unemployed persons who involuntarily lost their last job or who had completed a temporary job. This includes persons who were on temporary layoff expecting to return to work” ( Delayed a few days.
    • JOLTS layoffs: The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) covers a sample of government entities and private, non-farm companies each month. “Separations” include “quits” (voluntary), “layoffs and discharges” (involuntary), and “other” (retirements, transfers, deaths, and disability). Data reporting is about two months delayed.
    • MLS: The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program uses data from each state’s unemployment insurance database concerning employers which have at least 50 former employees filing initial unemployment claims during a consecutive 5-week period. Delayed a few weeks.


See also

Mass layoffs description

21 Mar 2008. BLS web site.


“The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program is a federal-state program that uses a standardized automated approach to identifying, describing, and tracking the effects of major job cutbacks, using data from each state’s unemployment insurance database. Each month, states report on employers which have at least 50 initial claims filed against them during a consecutive 5-week period. These employers then are contacted by the state agency to determine whether these separations lasted 31 days or longer, and, if so, other information concerning the layoff is collected. States report on layoffs lasting more than 1 month on a quarterly basis.”