Human Capital & Careers

Layoff Train Loses Some Steam

February is marked by fewer big job cuts than had been the norm since last fall.
Stephen TaubFebruary 27, 2009

For the third straight week, only a small number of companies announced more than 1,000 planned job cuts, which is what qualifies as good news these days.

Even the headline-grabbing announcement that JPMorgan Chase is eliminating 14,000 jobs — 12,000 stemming from the integration of Washington Mutual — is not as bad as it seems at first glance, because it includes the 9,200 WaMu jobs the bank had said in December that it would cut. JPMorgan also expects to cut up to 2,000 investment-banking jobs.

Elsewhere, struggling telecom-equipment maker Nortel Networks announced it intends to reduce its workforce by 3,200 positions worldwide. These new reductions are in addition to the 1,800 remaining reductions from previously announced plans.

“With the unprecedented economic environment and resultant impacts on revenues, significant changes are required to regain our financial footing,” said Mike Zafirovski, Nortel president and CEO. “Tough decisions are being made to restructure the company and work toward a successful emergence from creditor protection.”

Meanwhile, two technology companies announced large job reductions.

Chip maker Micron Technology said it will eliminate up to 2,000 positions by the end of its fiscal year after it closes its wafer manufacturing operations at its Boise, Idaho, facility. It cited deteriorating economic conditions and decreased demand for 200 millimeter specialty DRAM products.

“We remained hopeful that the demand for these products would stabilize in the marketplace and start to improve as we moved into the spring,” said Steve Appleton, Micron chairman and CEO. “Unfortunately, a better environment has not materialized, and we are at a point where we wanted to let our employees and the community know in advance what will occur later this summer.”

And Spansion Inc., a flash memory maker, said it will cut 3,000 employees, or 35 percent of its workforce.

Spansion said the majority of the positions affected are at its global manufacturing sites, as the company resizes the organization due to current market conditions. “This action is taken in an effort to further reduce costs as Spansion continues its restructuring efforts and explores various strategic alternatives,” the company added.