post on this blog three days ago passed along statistics interpreted here to mean that New York “is leading the nation in private and public jobs lost to layoffs.” But that passage turns out to have been seriously misleading, to say the least.

Challenger, Grey & Christmas, the Chicago company that was the source of the statistic, today confirmed that it compiles the layoff numbers from news accounts of corporate announcementsgrouped by headquarters state–which, in fact, is what is indicated on its release, but which I simply failed to noticeSince New York is headquarters to some big companies, that would boost the layoff numbers for the Empire State.  [Thanks to Bill Hammond of the Daily News for pointing this out.]

It would have been more accurate to say that New York-based firms lead those of other states in layoff announcements.  It would have been better still not even to have posted the item, which has now been removed from NYTorch in order to avoid having the statistic misused by others who might come upon the link in the future.

An alternative data source, the Mass Layoff Summary from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates that there were 34,143 initial unemployment claims resulting from private-sector layoffs in New York during the fourth quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013, including preliminary data for the latter period.  A quick glance at the numbers indicates that New York ranked second in UI claims related to layoffs in 2012-Q4 and 2013-Q1. California’s numbers dwarfed ours, with over 223,000 initial unemployment claims related to mass layoffs in the same period.

Measured in terms of layoff “events” alone, as reported by the BLS series, New York was third from September 2012 through March 2013, behind California and Illinois.  Given New York’s population and workforce, it’s not surprising that we rank so high — although it could also be pointed out that both Texas and Florida had significantly fewer layoff events and layoff-related unemployment claims than New York did during this period. Then again, in the month of May alone, New York actually had fewer layoff-related unemployment claims than Texas or North Carolina, as well as Illinois.

The Mass Layoff Summary has been suspended due to the federal budget sequester, but in future it will be the sole source of layoff data cited in this space.


About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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