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March 06, 2009
10% of Employers Say Layoffs ‘Highly Likely' This Year

Ten percent of employers say that layoffs are highly likely this year, down from 21 percent who said the same when asked in early July 2008, according to a survey conducted by and

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In the latest survey, conducted in February, 25 percent of respondents said layoffs are somewhat likely at their organization this year, compared with 16 percent who said the same in the July survey.

A third of respondents said their organization isn't likely to conduct layoffs this year, down from 49 percent who said so in the July survey.

The share of organizations who have already conducted layoffs rose from 15 percent in the July survey to 31 percent in February survey.

The survey included nearly 400 respondents and was conducted online.

On Friday, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent in February, the highest level in more than 20 years. In February, employers shed 651,000 jobs from their payrolls. Payroll employment has declined by 2.6 million in the past 4 months.

Eligible laid-off workers will receive help with premiums for continuation of healthcare coverage under COBRA for up to 9 months. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) created a subsidy for workers who have lost or will lose their jobs during the period from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009. Under the ARRA, the federal government will subsidize 65 percent of the premiums for continuation of healthcare coverage under COBRA for eligible individuals for up to 9 months. Employers will be reimbursed for the 65 percent subsidy by taking a credit on their payroll taxes.

BLR has published a new report to help employers comply with the COBRA subsidy program. The report offers detailed analysis of the how the program works, steps organizations can take now and in the future to ensure compliance, answers to common questions, and a compliance calendar to show which deadlines are looming. The report can be found here.

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