In a bitter dose of economic irony, an improving housing market is triggering 435 job cuts at JPMorgan Chase's Tampa offices.
The cuts in the megabank's mortgage banking unit, effective Sept. 4, were outlined in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice filed with the state Friday.
Earlier this year, the bank said it planned to cut 12,000 jobs nationwide in its mortgage unit by the end of 2014 as demand waned for mortgage modifications and other homeowner aid. Florida still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, but a rise in home prices and declining unemployment has helped stabilize the once-traumatized housing front.
Similarly, JPMorgan Chase is shuttering a call center in Albion, N.Y., that assists struggling homeowners, a closing affecting more than 400 employees.
"Fewer homeowners are falling behind on their mortgages, so we need fewer employees to assist those who were struggling," said Amy Bonitatibus, a spokesman representing the New York bank's mortgage operation. "This shift is good for homeowners and the economy overall."
Bonitatibus said the cuts will be mitigated because the company has about 300 openings at its credit card and auto units in Tampa.
Many of the dislocated workers, she said, could qualify for those 300 openings. Moreover, the company continues to expand its Chase Bank branch network statewide.
Though a household name through its mortgages and credit cards, the bank was slow to build a presence in Florida consumer banking until it bought Washington Mutual's vast branch network in late 2008. It has since grown to about 340 branches statewide, including 60 in Tampa Bay alone. The company has about 17,000 employees in Florida, more than 5,000 of them in the bay area.
"Tampa is a growing market for Chase," Bonitatibus said.
All the employees being laid off work at JPMorgan Chase's sprawling operations near Tampa International Airport, split between its Independence Parkway offices and its nearby Memorial Highway location. A job fair will be held within the next two weeks, Bonitatibus said.