Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oregon's Record-Breaking Mass Layoffs

Already in recession, Oregon's economy recorded historic levels of mass layoffs through the winter of 2008-2009. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Oregon experienced 73 confirmed extended mass layoffs. An additional 69 extended mass layoff events were confirmed in the first quarter of 2009.

The number of potential events began to rise last July, accelerated in September 2008, and continued to rise at an alarming rate through January 2009. Record numbers of potential events for that particular month were reported in October, November, January, February and March. The 49 reported in December was near a record high, falling just short of the 51 potential events reported in December 2001.

The 73 fourth quarter extended mass layoffs were, by a wide margin, the largest number ever reported by the program for Oregon. In these 73 layoffs, 13,668 individuals lost their jobs. Not surprisingly, this was also a program record.

Adding to the pain of the dismal numbers from the fourth quarter, these record numbers were nearly matched in the first quarter of 2009 with an additional 69 extended mass layoffs verified. These layoffs accounted for an additional 11,757 separations.

*About the Mass Layoff Statistics Program
The MLS program gathers layoff information nationwide for all industries except government and agriculture. The current MLS data series extends back only to 1996, so it is important to remember that while frequent references to "record numbers" of events, layoffs and separations are made, the time line for this particular program is short.

The MLS program* defines potential mass layoff events as occurring when 50 or more workers from a single employer file an initial claim for unemployment insurance within a five-week period. These potential events, reported monthly, serve as early warning of possible layoffs occurring in workplaces throughout Oregon.

Read the full article by Research Analyst Jim Lee ( 503-947-1884).

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