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Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS)

Note: On March 1, 2013, President Obama ordered into effect the across-the-board spending cuts (commonly referred to as sequestration) required by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, as amended. Under the order, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) must cut its current budget by more than $30 million, 5 percent of the current 2013 appropriation, by September 30, 2013. In order to help achieve these savings and protect core programs, the BLS will eliminate two programs, including Mass Layoff Statistics, and all ''measuring green jobs'' products. The final release of Mass Layoffs Statistics data will occur on June 21st, with publication of the May 2013 data.

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.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program?
    The Mass Layoff Statistics 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. Establishments which have at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a consecutive 5-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 individuals separated, the reasons for these separations, and recall expectations. Establishments are identified according to industry classification and location, and unemployment insurance claimants are identified by such demographic characteristics as age, race, sex, ethnic group, and place of residence. The program yields information on an individual’s entire spell of unemployment, to the point when regular unemployment insurance benefits are exhausted. It provides databases of establishments and claimants, both of which are used for further research and analysis.
  • What kind of information does the MLS program provide?
    Mass layoff summary information on establishments which have at least 50 initial claims (20 for Indiana state events) for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a 5-week period are reported in the monthly news release, Mass Layoffs in (Month). The number of layoff events and the number of initial claimants associated with those events are available for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as by industry.

    Extended mass layoff data report on establishments which have at least 50 initial claims filed against them during a 5-week period and where the employer indicates that 50 or more people were separated from their jobs for at least 31 days. These data are reported in the quarterly news release, Extended Mass Layoffs in (Quarter). Information is obtained on the total number of persons separated; the reasons for separation; worksite closures; recall expectations; and socio-economic characteristics on UI claimants—such as gender, age, race, and residency. These characteristics are collected at two points in time—when an initial claim is filed and when the claimant exhausts regular UI benefits. In between these points, the unemployment status of claimants is tracked through the monitoring of certifications for unemployment (continued claims) filed under the regular State UI program. Data are available for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as by industry.
  • 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. An extended mass layoff occurs when at least 50 initial claims are filed against an establishment during a consecutive 5-week period and at least 50 workers have been separated from jobs for more than 30 days.
  • Does Indiana have a different mass layoff claim level?
    In January 2004, Indiana established a level of at least 20 initial claims filed against an establishment during a consecutive 5-week period to establish a state mass layoff. However, only those events with the 50 initial claim level are reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • What is an initial claim?
    This is a term used to define the initial notice of unemployment a person files with the State Unemployment Insurance agency 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.
  • Are companies having mass layoffs identified by name when mass layoffs occur?
    No. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and State of Indiana keep the identity of such establishments confidential.
  • What industry classification system does the MLS program use?

    Beginning with the release of data for January 2002 on February 28, 2002, the Mass Layoff Statistics program implemented the 2002 version of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as the basis for the assignment and tabulation of economic data by industry. NAICS is the product of a cooperative effort on the part of the statistical agencies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Due to differences in NAICS and the previously used Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) structures, data for 2002 are not comparable to the SIC-based data for earlier years. However, the historical industry series from April 1995 (second quarter 1995 for extended mass layoffs) through the end of 2001 are available on both SIC and NAICS bases.

    NAICS uses a production-oriented approach to categorize economic units. Units with similar production processes are classified in the same industry. NAICS focuses on how products and services are created, as opposed to the SIC focus on what is produced. This approach yields significantly different industry groupings than those produced by the SIC approach.

    Users interested in more information about NAICS can learn more at the BLS website or the Census Bureau website.

  • How are MLS program data used?
    MLS data are used for the following purposes:
    • Sub-state allocations of federal funds for dislocated workers through the Economic Development and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act.
    • Analysis of ailing industries or geographic areas.
    • Identifying the causes and scope of worker dislocation, especially in terms of the human and economic costs, and the characteristics of dislocated workers.
    • Development of approaches for workforce planners and labor market analysts in assisting employers and/or workers at the local level.
    • Analysis of potentially available labor market supply.
  • Are MLS data benchmarked?
    No. Benchmarking is not necessary since the MLS program is a universe, not a sample-based survey.
  • How are data revisions indicated?
    Beginning with data for 2000, the latest two months of Mass Layoff data are preliminary and are indicated as such with a "(P)." Data for months prior to the preliminary months are considered final and are not expected to change. However, in the event that changes to final monthly data occur, an "(R)" will indicate which data are revised. This designation remains until the next month of data is made available. For example, if February 2000 was the latest data available, both January and February 2000 data would be indicated as "(P)." All months prior to January would be considered to be final. When March 2000 became available, February and March data would be considered preliminary and January 2000 data final. Any revisions to data prior to January would be indicated with an "(R)." Extended Mass Layoff data (published quarterly) follows the same approach. The latest two quarters of data are preliminary and are indicated as such with a "(P)." Data for quarters prior to the preliminary quarters are considered final and are not expected to change. However, in the event that changes to final quarterly data occur, an "(R)" will indicate which data are revised.
  • 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 layoff beginning with data for the first quarter 2004. It was felt these reasons do not reflect an economic reason and instead relate to the effect of the actual reason.
  • Whom should I contact if I have questions regarding the MLS program?
    In Indiana, please contact:  jroesler@dwd.in.gov or call (317) 232-7183. For federal information, contact MLSinfo@bls.gov or call 202-691-6392.