JPMorgan Chase is closing several business units in Tampa set up to help distressed homeowners, a decision that signifies an improving economy even as it triggers more than 600 local job cuts this summer and fall.
The New York megabank disclosed in a state filing Friday that it will eliminate another 208 mortgage jobs here in October on top of 435 job cuts it revealed in June. Combined, that means JPMorgan Chase has announced more job cuts just in Tampa this year than any other company in Florida.
"This is part of the ongoing work to adjust to market dynamics," Chase spokeswoman Maribel Ferrer said. "Fewer homeowners are struggling with their mortgages, and many people have already refinanced, taking advantage of the stronger economy and historically low rates.
"It's a good thing for the economy that we don't need people in those positions," but "hopefully we can reassign some of them internally."
Chase currently has about 400 open positions in Tampa in its credit card, auto and other units. For workers who do not qualify for other internal jobs, outplacement assistance and other severance benefits will be offered.
The latest cuts will be split between two Chase locations near Tampa International Airport — 4919 Memorial Highway and 4915 Independence Parkway — and are effective Oct. 11, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with the state that was disclosed Friday afternoon.
In a letter accompanying the WARN notice, Chase vice president Magaly Denis-Roman said the company is exiting operations for three business units at the two sites: collections, consumer direct underwriting and its Chase Homeownership Centers. The centers were created during the housing crisis to help guide troubled homeowners through loan modifications or discuss other alternatives to foreclosure.
A breakdown of job titles showed that the majority of affected workers were in loan underwriting and collections.
Denis-Roman said the bank is giving notice to terminated employees in this second round between Aug. 13 and Sept. 12.
In February, 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 housing overall.
Chase has about 16,500 employees in Florida, including about 5,000 in the Tampa Bay area. More than 4,000 of the local employees work either at the Independence Parkway complex or the Memorial Highway location.
Ferrer declined to "speculate" on whether there will be additional cuts.
"We're continually evaluating resources. We're going to evaluate the needs," she said, noting that the company has made "substantial progress" in its job-cutting goals in mortgage operations for the year. "We remain very committed to the market."
Jeff Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8242.