News articles commonly refer to the nearly 14 million unemployed Americans as having been laid off as companies downsized. That's actually an exaggeration. Just over 50% of the Americans that the government considers unemployed hold that status due to being fired from a permanent job. Let's look at how the various causes for unemployment have changed in the U.S. since 2007.
Here's a chart that shows the percentage of all unemployed Americans for the five categories of unemployed Americans that the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks:
As you can see, layoffs do dominate the chart (red line) as the chief cause of unemployment. In fact, that reason has risen in significance from just 34.0% in January 2007 to peak 54.1% in November 2009. It has since begun to decline a little, now settling just above 50%. Unfortunately, this isn't entirely due to these Americans finding work. Some are leaving the workforce and no longer considered among the unemployed.
The next most significant group is reentrants (gold line). But its portion of the total has declined since the recession began. This makes sense, since layoffs rose. You can see, however, that the portion of reentrants has begun to increase recently. As the economy appeared to be improving earlier this year, more Americans reentered the labor market to look for work. Of course, it should be noted that some people in this group may have been laid off in the past, which means that the job losers shown probably underestimates the number of Americans who are ultimately unemployed due to layoffs.