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From 2019 to 2021, 3.6 million workers were displaced from jobs they held for at least 3 years

From January 2019 through December 2021, there were 3.6 million workers displaced from jobs they had held for at least 3 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This was up by 924,000 workers from the prior survey period covering January 2017 to December 2019. In January 2022, 65 percent of workers displaced from 2019 to 2021 were reemployed, down from 70 percent in January 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office sponsored the January 2022 survey to collect information on workers who were displaced from their jobs. Since 1984, these surveys have been conducted biennially in January as supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households that is the primary source of information on the nation’s labor force. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Displaced workers are defined as persons 20 years of age and over who report that they lost or left jobs because their plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished. The period covered in this study was January 2019 to December 2021, the 3 calendar years prior to the January 2022 survey date. This period included the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that began in early 2020. Those who were temporarily absent from a job due to a pandemic-related business closure or reduced business hours are not considered displaced workers.

The following analysis focuses primarily on the 3.6 million people who had worked for their employer for 3 or more years at the time of displacement (referred to as long-tenured workers). An additional 5.0 million persons were displaced from jobs they had held for less than 3 years (referred to as short-tenured workers). Combining the short- and long-tenured groups, the number of displaced workers totaled 8.6 million from 2019 to 2021. This is up from 6.3 million for the 2017-19 survey period.

Highlights from the January 2022 survey:

  • In January 2022, 65 percent of the 3.6 million long-tenured displaced workers were reemployed, down from 70 percent in January 2020. (See table 1.)
  • Among long-tenured displaced workers age 65 and over, the reemployment rate declined by 15 percentage points from the prior survey and the proportion that were no longer in the labor force increased by 12 percentage points to 61 percent. (See table 1.)
  • Thirty-eight percent of long-tenured displaced workers from the 2019-21 period lost their job because their plant or company closed down or moved, an additional 31 percent lost their job because their position or shift was abolished, and 31 percent were displaced due to insufficient work. (See table 2.)
  • Sixteen percent of long-tenured displaced workers lost a job in leisure and hospitality, 14 percent lost a job in professional and business services, and another 13 percent lost a job in manufacturing. (See table 4.)
  • Among long-tenured workers who were displaced from full-time wage and salary jobs and were reemployed in such jobs in January 2022, 63 percent had earnings that were as much or greater than those of their lost job, little different from the prior survey. (See table 7.)

Characteristics of the Displaced

Sixty-five percent of the 3.6 million long-tenured displaced workers were reemployed at the time of the survey in January 2022, down from 70 percent for the January 2020 survey. The proportion unemployed at the time of the most recent survey was 12 percent, the same as in January 2020. Twenty-two percent of long-tenured displaced workers were not in the labor force in January 2022, up from 18 percent in the previous survey. (See table 1.)

In January 2022, the reemployment rate was 72 percent for workers ages 25 to 54, little changed from the prior survey. Reemployment rates continued to be lower for older workers; the rates for those ages 55 to 64 and 65 years and over were 64 percent and 29 percent, respectively. Among those age 65 and over, the reemployment rate declined by 15 percentage points from the prior survey and the proportion that were no longer in the labor force increased by 12 percentage points to 61 percent.

Among long-tenured displaced workers, men had a slightly higher reemployment rate than women in January 2022 (68 percent and 62 percent, respectively). The reemployment rate for men changed little from the prior survey, while the rate for women declined. The proportions of long-tenured displaced men and women who were unemployed were little different in January 2022 (14 percent and 11 percent, respectively). The share of male displaced workers who had left the labor force was little changed at 18 percent, while the share of women increased by 7 percentage points to 27 percent from the prior survey. The proportion of women leaving the labor force ages 25 to 54 rose by 11 percentage points to 22 percent in January 2022.

In January 2022, the reemployment rate for long-tenured displaced White workers declined by 7 percentage points to 64 percent. The rates for Blacks (71 percent), Asians (66 percent), and Hispanics (65 percent) changed little from the prior survey. In January 2022, the proportion of unemployed long-tenured displaced Blacks declined by 14 percentage points to 8 percent from the prior survey, while the proportion of Hispanics increased by 8 percentage points to 17 percent over the same period.

Reason for Job Loss and Receipt of Advance Notice

Of the 3.6 million long-tenured workers displaced during January 2019 through December 2021, 38 percent lost or left their jobs due to plant or company closings or moves, an additional 31 percent lost their job because their position or shift was abolished, and 31 percent were displaced due to insufficient work.

Thirty-nine percent of long-tenured displaced workers in 2019 to 2021 received written advance notice that their jobs would be terminated, down from 47 percent in 2017 to 2019. Among workers who lost jobs during the 2019-21 period due to plant or company closings or moves, 49 percent received written advance notice, down from 60 percent for the prior survey period. By comparison, 43 percent of workers who were displaced because their position or shift was abolished and 25 percent of those who lost jobs due to insufficient work were notified in advance, both little changed from 2017 to 2019. For each of these groups, reemployment rates were not statistically different for those who received written advanced notice and those who did not. (See table 3.)

Industry and Occupation

During the 2019 to 2021 period, 574,000 long-tenured leisure and hospitality workers were displaced from their jobs–16 percent of all long-tenured displaced workers. This proportion increased from 5 percent in 2017 to 2019, reflecting the impact of the pandemic on the industry. For the 2019 to 2021 period, workers in professional and business services accounted for 14 percent of all long-tenured displacements, manufacturing accounted for another 13 percent, and education and health services accounted for 12 percent of all displacements. (See table 4.)

In January 2022, the reemployment rates for the other services industry (50 percent), retail trade (61 percent), and leisure and hospitality (64 percent) declined significantly from January 2020. These reemployment rates reflect the slower recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in these industries. The rates for workers displaced from the other major industry groups changed little from the prior survey. (Workers were not necessarily reemployed in the same industries from which they were displaced.)

By major occupational group, the reemployment rate decreased to 58 percent for sales and office occupations and to 68 percent for management, professional, and related occupations in January 2022. Reemployment rates for other major occupational groups changed little from the prior survey. The January 2022 rates were 71 percent for those displaced from production, transportation, and material moving occupations; 65 percent for service occupations; and 63 percent for natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. (See table 5.)

Geographic Divisions

Compared with the 2017-19 period, the number of long-tenured workers displaced during the 2019-21 period increased for the Middle Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, and Pacific divisions, and changed little for the other geographic divisions of the United States. In January 2022, the reemployment rate increased to 72 percent for the East South Central division. The rate declined for the West South Central (56 percent) and Mountain (67 percent) divisions. (See table 6.)

Earnings

Of the 2.0 million long-tenured displaced workers who lost full-time wage and salary jobs during the 2019-21 period and were reemployed in January 2022, 1.6 million had full-time wage and salary jobs. Of the reemployed full-time workers who reported earnings on their lost job, the proportion that were earning as much or more than they did at their lost job was 63 percent in January 2022, little different from the January 2020 survey. (See table 7.)

Total Displaced Workers (With No Tenure Restriction)

The total number of workers displaced between January 2019 and December 2021 (regardless of how long they had held their jobs) was 8.6 million, up by 2.3 million from 2017 to 2019. Of the total number of workers who lost jobs over the 2019-21 period, 67 percent were reemployed in January 2022, down by 4 percentage points from the January 2020 survey. Fourteen percent of all displaced workers were unemployed, little different from the prior survey, and the proportion not in the labor force rose by 5 percentage points to 19 percent. (See table 8.)

This article was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.