The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2011 work stoppage statistics today.   On the whole, 19 major strikes or lockouts occurred in 2011.   These work stoppages impacted 113,000 workers and counted for just over a million lost workhours.

The numbers are interesting from a historical perspective.  On the one hand, the figures represent a dramatic increase if you look at recent history.   This is the largest number of work stoppages since 2007 and represents a huge increase from 2009 when only a paltry five work stoppages occurred.

But if you take a longer view, 19 strikes is nothing.   In 1947, the year that Shawe & Rosenthal was founded, the nation experienced 270 major work stoppages.   That number vacillated from the late 40s to the early 80s — in 1969, an astounding 412 major strikes or lockouts happened; the number stood at 424 in 1974.   A mere seven years later — 1981 — the number plummeted to 145 and within four years of that, following the disastrous air traffic controllers strike, it dropped again by more than half to 54.

The slight uptick in strikes and lockouts means that employers must be mindful of an increased possibility of these work actions.  But the overall numbers are still low from a historical perspective.