Home Labor Market Information MLS Program in CA Mass Layoff Statistics - Frequently Asked Questions

Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) Program - Frequently Asked Questions


Mass Layoff Statistics Program Suspension
As a result of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, (commonly referred to as sequestration); the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), suspended the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program. For more information about this change, please visit the BLS sequestration page.

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What is the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) Program and Methodology?
The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program is a Federal-State cooperative statistical effort which uses a standardized, automated approach to identify, describe, and track the effects of major job cutbacks using data from each State's unemployment insurance database.

Companies or employers which have at least 50 initial claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) filed against them during a consecutive five-week period are contacted by State agencies to determine whether those separations are of at least 31 days duration, and, if so, information is obtained on the total number of persons separated, the reasons for these separations, and recall expectations.

Companies or employers are identified according to industry classification and location. The unemployment insurance claimants are identified by such demographic characteristics as age, race, and sex. It provides databases of establishments and claimants, both of which are used for further research and analysis.

When an employer is contacted about a specific layoff event, the following information is collected:

  • number of workers affected
  • number of workers employed before the layoff
  • reason for the layoff
  • possibility for employee recalls
  • length of the layoff
  • job site of the layoff
  • type of work activities of the laid off employees
  • number of jobs related to the layoff event, if any, being moved to another location (other states or countries),was added in January 2004

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What kind of information does the MLS program provide?
Mass layoff summary information on establishments which have at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a 5-week period as reported in the monthly news release include the following:

  • number of layoff events
  • number of initial claimants associated with those events
  • industry affected

Extended mass layoff data report on establishments which have at least 50 initial claims filed against them during a five-week period and where the employer indicates that 50 or more people were separated from their jobs for at least 31 days. These data as reported in the quarterly news release include:

  • the total number of persons separated
  • the reasons for separation
  • worksite closures
  • recall expectations
  • socioeconomic characteristics on UI claimants such as gender, age, race, and residency

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What is an initial claim?
This is a term used to define the initial notice of unemployment a person files with the California Employment Development Department to initiate a request either for a determination of entitlement to and eligibility for compensation, or for a subsequent period of unemployment within a benefit year or period of eligibility.

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What constitutes a mass layoff?
A mass layoff occurs when at least 50 initial claims are filed against an establishment during a consecutive 5-week period.

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What is an extended mass layoff?
An extended mass layoff occurs when the employer verifies through phone contact that at least 50 workers have been separated from jobs for more than 31 days.

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What is the data source for the MLS program?
The MLS Program uses initial unemployment insurance claims to identify potential events. Employers identified as having potential mass layoff events are contacted by telephone to confirm if actual events meeting Mass Layoff Statistics criteria occurred.

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Are companies identified by name when mass layoffs occurr?
No. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and California keep the identity of such establishments confidential. However, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) lists employers that have given notice of impending layoffs.

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Where do I find the National and California MLS data?
Data can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website under Latest MLS News Releases.

Detailed mass layoff or extended mass layoff data by industries (SIC or NAICS), reasons, or demographics and by state or nation can be obtained by using the MLS data search tool.

Note: When searching for total extended mass layoff data, select the 'Total Private Nonfarm N0048' from the Industry or NAICS table.

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What industry classification system does the MLS program use?
Beginning with 2002 data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Mass Layoff Statistics program implemented the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as the basis for assigning and tabulating data by industry. Due to the differences in NAICS and the previously used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) structures, data by industry beginning with 2002 are not comparable to SIC based data for prior years. SIC based data are available from 1995 through 2001.

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How are MLS program data used?
The MLS data uses include:

  • Analysis of ailing industries or geographic areas.
  • Assisting in identifying the causes and scope of worker dislocation, especially in terms of the human and economic costs, and the characteristics of dislocated workers.
  • Assisting in the development of approaches for work force planners and labor market analysts in assisting affected employers and/or workers at the local level.
  • Analysis of potentially available labor market supply.

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Why are "domestic relocation" and "overseas relocation" as reasons for layoff no longer collected?
The MLS program discontinued the collection of "domestic relocation" and "overseas relocation" as standard reasons for layoffs beginning with the first quarter of 2004. It was felt these responses did not reflect an economic reason for a layoff but instead related to the effect of the actual reason.

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Does the MLS program collect information on offshoring and outsourcing?
Yes. BLS decided to use the MLS program as a vehicle for collecting additional information on offshoring and outsourcing associated with job loss, by adding questions that address movement of work or moving work.

Moving Work means the company experiencing the layoff has reassigned work activities that were performed at one a worksite move the work to another:

  • Worksite within the company
  • Company under formal arrangements at the same worksite
  • Company under formal arrangements at another worksite

The type of work activities subject to movement can include accounting, customer service, cleaning, warehousing, etc.

Analysis of the data for the first three quarters of 2004 is contained in the research paper, Mass Layoff Statistics Data in the United States and Domestic and Overseas Relocation.

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Does the MLS program track all layoffs?
The Mass Layoff Statistics program only tracks and reports on layoffs involving 50 or more people from a specific employer. Data collected from the MLS program are only a subset of all layoff activity. Many layoffs fail to meet the qualifying criteria and thus will not be identified as a mass layoff event.

It is also important to note that for a variety of reasons, many workers do not file for unemployment insurance benefits after separation from employment. Thus a high level of layoffs accompanied by low levels of claims filed may not be identified as a mass layoff event.

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How do I file for Unemployment Benefits?
Online Application:  Unemployment Insurance Application

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Who should I contact if I have questions about the MLS program?
Any questions concerning the MLS program should be referred to the following:

  • Online: Ask EDD
  • Phone: (916) 262-2162

Note: If you e-mail a question, please do not include your business account number, social security number, or employment and wage information.

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