Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210






March 21, 1996





for Regional Management
SUBJECT : Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) Report

  1. Purpose. To transmit a copy of the Final Report of the Interagency Workgroup on the Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) program and to outline some of the actions that will occur based on that report.

  2. Background. The MLS program is a Federal/State cooperative program which 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. The MLS program is authorized by Section 462(e) of the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) (P.L. 97-300), as amended by P.L. 102-367, which directs the Secretary of Labor to "develop and maintain statistical data relating to permanent lay-offs and plant closings." The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was directly funded to administer an MLS program from FY 1984 through FY 1991. Funding for the program was dropped from the BLS budget in FY 1992, but was provided by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) from JTPA Title IV funds. The MLS program was eliminated in November 1992 primarily for lack of funding.

    Language in Congressional Appropriations Reports on the Department of Labor's budget request for FY 1994 called for ETA to provide BLS with funding from JTPA Title III discretionary accounts to continue the MLS program. ETA and BLS entered into an Intra-Agency Agreement (IAA) under which ETA transferred $6,000,000 to BLS to administer an MLS program. One of the

    provisions of that agreement called for BLS and ETA to establish a Federal/State workgroup to examine the utility of the MLS

    program to the Dislocated Worker program. The workgroup has finished its work and issued its Final Report (attached). The recommendations in the report have implications for actions at the state level.

  3. Findings of the Workgroup. The objective of the workgroup was to determine (1) whether the MLS program is, or can become, responsive to the information needs of the Dislocated Worker program, and (2) if changes are needed, what those changes are and what they would cost.

    In this regard, the workgroup defined four broad information needs for the Dislocated Worker program:

    Information which could be used to provide Early Warning of possible plant closings and mass layoffs that would require services from State or local Dislocated Worker program providers;

    Information which could serve as a means to identify the overall Dislocated Worker Population in need of EDWAA-funded services;

    Information which could be used as inputs to improve the Planning and Funding Allocation processes at the State level; and

    Information which could be used to facilitate Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis at both the State and National levels.

    The value of the information provided through the MLS program was determined by assessing how well it met, or could be made to meet (through reasonable changes), these information needs.

    In general, the workgroup concluded that the MLS program, as currently constituted and with no change, did not provide information that was of significant value to the Dislocated Worker program. However, the workgroup also concluded that, if certain key changes were made in the MLS program, the resulting information would be of value and could be used, at least at the State level, to meet or partially meet three of the four principal information needs of the Dislocated Worker program.

  4. Recommendations of the Workgroup. To enable the necessary changes to be made in the MLS program, the workgroup made the following recommendations:

    1. Take the actions necessary to make the definitions in the MLS program consistent with Dislocated Worker program definitions and to expand the population identified by the MLS to include the bulk of those persons eligible to participate in the Dislocated Worker program.

    2. Add occupational data for claimants identified through the MLS program.

    3. Provide training for State and local users of the MLS system, not just the system operators.

    4. Add a series of questions to the Employer Contact Survey to gauge customer satisfaction with services provided by State and local Dislocated Worker units.

    5. Require, as part of the BLS cooperative agreement with States regarding MLS, that State LMI/Research offices contact State Dislocated Worker offices to jointly determine what services can and will be provided to Dislocated Worker units using the resources provided under such agreement; concurrently, ETA should issue an instruction to State Dislocated Worker programs asking them to work cooperatively with the LMI/Research offices in this regard.

    6. Commit to continued funding for the revised MLS program for two to three years in order to implement the changes and evaluate their impact on the utility of the resulting data.

    7. Continue the MLS workgroup, or a similar body, to plan and oversee implementation of the required changes to the MLS program.

    8. Resolve the issue of the degree of flexibility allowed States (by BLS) in carrying out the MLS program.

    9. Determine the feasibility of using alternative means, in some instances, for the manner in which follow-up contacts with employers are conducted to reduce the cost of conducting the follow-up survey.

    While a final decision has not been made to accept all of the recommmendations of the Workgroup, several have been accepted and are already being implemented. Of primary interest is recommendation (e) above, which BLS has incorporated in its FY 1996 Cooperative Agreements with the States to carry out the MLS program. This recommendation grew out of a recognition by the Workgroup that there was a "clear need for a strong link between State Dislocated Worker program and LMI offices..." Moreover, the funding provided by BLS to LMI offices to carry out the MLS program, which comes entirely from Title III, primarily buys staff. The Workgroup believed that some portion of that staffing should be used to support the information needs of the dislocated worker program.

    In implementing this recommendation, BLS has called for a written agreement between the LMI and the Dislocated Worker offices as a deliverable under its Cooperative Agreement with each State. This agreement is intended to set out how MLS resources will be used and the support services that will be provided. It might also address the restrictions (under State or Federal law) that would be placed on the use of MLS Data by staff in State and local dislocated worker offices.

  5. Action Required.

    1. Ensure that the Dislocated Worker Unit (DWU) works with the State LMI/Research office to identify its information needs and to determine the services that the LMI/Research Office will provide to the DWU unit; and

    2. Share a copy of the attached report with appropriate staff.

  6. Attachments.

    1. Mass Layoff Statistics Report.

    2. ETA - BLS Memorandum of Agreement for FY 1996.


NOTE: Attachment(s) not available to DMS