Mass layoffs in Arkansas hit new high

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 162 views 

Talk Business has reported periodically on the phenomenon known as “mass layoffs,” those major workforce reductions that often garner headlines when they hit communities in Arkansas.

The 2008-09 recession brought a major uptick in those mass layoff events, but 2010 was a calmer year.

In 2011, however, the state hit a new high.

Talk Business reported last September that a rough summer of layoffs could propel Arkansas to rival its record high. The three-month period of May to July 2011 was the worst summer in 10 years of statistics from the federal government on the subject.

Today (April 2), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011 Arkansas recorded 154 mass layoff actions, affecting 16,665 workers — a record high.

Other statistics from the BLS report:
• The number of Arkansas unemployment claims in 2011 was a record high for the state dating back to 1996 when the series began, and more than double the 2010 total of 7,748.

• The manufacturing industry had the largest number of initial claimants (10, 808) in 2011, accounting for 65% of the state’s total.

• Administrative and waste services ranked second in both the number of mass layoff events and initial claimants, although both were series highs for the industry.

• Government mass layoff initial claims nearly doubled over-the-year, up by 265 in 2011. The largest contributor was local government where initial claims rose to 195, a new series high and an increase of 290%.

The BLS’ 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. Employers are later 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.