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Large-scale, permanent layoffs climb | EPI Economic Snapshots

Snapshot for March 5, 2003.

Large-scale, permanent layoffs climb

One substantial contributor to the economy’s current unemployment problem is the rise in large-scale layoffs. In 2001, about 1.8 million workers were separated from their jobs due to “extended mass layoffs” (defined as layoffs separating 50 or more workers from their jobs for over 30 days). This was an increase of 50% over 2000. Even more disturbing is the fact that the number of employees affected by permanent work site closures in 2001 was 379,815, over twice what it was in 2000. (Note that these numbers do not take into account all of the work site closings affecting fewer than 50 employees.)

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Late last year, the Department of Labor quietly announced it was discontinuing its reporting of mass layoff statistics.

As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not provided data for the last three months of 2002, but by September 2002 (the last month for which data was produced) the picture was already bleak. The number of workers affected by extended mass layoffs in the first nine months of 2002—while slightly lower than the first nine months of 2001—was still 41% higher than in the first nine months of 2000. In addition, more employees were affected by mass layoffs due to permanent work site closings in the first nine months of 2002 than in any full year from 1997 to 2000.

Thankfully, Congress overruled the Department of Labor earlier this year and reinstated the mass layoff statistics program.

This week’s Snapshot by EPI policy analyst Jeff Chapman.

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