Labor Market Information: Win-Win Network Community of Practice

Understanding Layoff and Dislocated Worker Data Sources

Posted by LMI Win-Win Network - On October 02, 2012 (EST)

Job loss and layoff measures (frequently referred to as worker dislocation or displacement) differ from unemployment in that the former usually delineate the specific time period when an individual lost his or her job, whereas the unemployment count includes individuals irrespective of when they lost their jobs (or even if they have no previous employment).

The three U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) layoff indicators each has its strengths and weaknesses. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), despite being the broadest measure, is based on the smallest sample size of the three surveys, and offers no demographic data. The Current Population Survey’s (CPS) Displaced Worker Supplement has considerable demographic data, but since it is only conducted every 2 years it becomes dated more quickly than the other two measures, which are monthly surveys. The Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) survey provides the greatest geographical detail.

To help dispel some of the confusion about the different sources of information on this subject, we briefly describe the three most important sources. More information about JOLTS and the Mass Layoff Statistics survey can also be found in their respective entries in ETA’s Guide to State and Local Workforce Data.

For all three sources that supply data on laid-off workers, we have also assembled a detailed comparison of the information available from each.

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Modified On : October 11, 2012
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