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PricewaterhouseCoopers to lay off 500 workers, mostly in Tampa

PricewaterhouseCoopers will lay off about 500 information technology workers, most of them in Tampa, as part of a broader push to outsource to cheaper labor.

The news is an untimely blow to Tampa Bay's economy, which is already battling a 12 percent unemployment rate, the fifth-highest among the country's largest metro areas. It also comes amid a recent resurgence in mass layoffs and growing concern nationally that the economy might slip into a double-dip recession.

"It's just terrible news," Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said Friday. "It's a terrible job market for those people to find other jobs and I'm very sorry to see it happen. … They're moving jobs away from this community and that's a negative. And it's a negative to our national economy when jobs are moved overseas."

PWC spokesman Jonathan Stoner said the consulting powerhouse employs 1,100 in its information technology group nationwide. Of the 600 remaining employees, most will stay in its Tampa hub, he said. With four locations and 1,850 employees in the Tampa Bay area as of early this year, PWC has been one of the region's top employers. In March, it ranked No. 3 among large bay area companies in the Times' Top Places to Work survey.

Iorio said PWC did not approach the city asking for incentives to keep workers here. "If they're making a fundamental decision to move jobs overseas to reduce labor costs, that's a business decision," she said, "and I don't think there's anything any American city can do to compensate for that."

Stoner said the decision stems from a combination of PWC's information technology groups in the United States and United Kingdom.

"The U.S. and UK firms are combining governance, organizational structure and business processes and a single, Indian-based vendor will provide service to both member firms," he said.

Other reports identified Tata Consultancy Services of Mumbai, India, as the vendor, but Stoner said the company does not comment on clients or third-party contracts.

He also disputed one report that employees were told they would have to reapply for positions at Tata. "What we have told our employees is that they are all to be encouraged to apply for other positions at the firm, at PWC."

Throughout the recession, corporations have continued to outsource jobs to Indian vendors to save money, with Tata often reaping the rewards.

Idearc Media, which publishes the Verizon Yellow Pages, laid off 150 employees in St. Petersburg in December as it transferred much of its publishing business to Tata. Ratings agency Nielsen Media Research also turned to Tata for cheaper labor in laying off 170 information technology employees at its Oldsmar complex in 2008 and 57 in November.

Workers found out about the Pricewaterhouse layoffs on Thursday, coming in the wake of PWC cuts elsewhere statewide, including the shutdown of its tax practice office in Orlando.

A half-dozen workers exiting PWC's Lakepointe office complex on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on Friday said they were in shock, but were warned by managers not to speak publicly. Workers said the company had not given details on severance packages nor a specific time line, except to indicate cuts would likely be completed by the end of the year.

One worker, an Indian contractor for PWC, said the project he's working on will likely be shut down, leaving him with bittersweet emotions: He's sad for his colleagues here and happy for people in India.

As recently as a month ago, Florida economists were pointing to a slowdown in mass layoffs as a sign that the economy was starting to recover.

But July has been a particularly brutal month based on recent mass layoff notices filed with the state. Among them: 892 workers affiliated with the Kennedy Space Center; 320 with the GEO Group in Graceville; 81 at LifeLink HealthCare Institute in Tampa; 245 at Lockheed Martin Corp.; 344 at Kehe Distributors; 221 at Mosaic Fertilizer in Fort Meade; 100 at Bank of America's Idlewood Avenue location in Tampa; and 67 at Enterprise Leasing in Tampa.

All told, 16 layoff notices have been filed in July affecting 2,864 workers statewide. That doesn't include this week's cuts by Pricewaterhouse.

Times staff writers Janet Zink and Nandini Jayakrishna contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com or or (727) 893-8242.

Bay area's worst layoffs

The PricewaterhouseCoopers layoff of 500 people, a majority in Tampa, rank among the largest since the start of the recession. Since 2007, at least a dozen bay area companies have told the state they would shed more than 250 employees.

LayoffsCompanyLocationDate
751Home Depot Customer

Contact Center
RiverviewJanuary 2008
737TeleTech HoldingsTampaApril 2007
720Smithfield PackingPlant CityJune 2009
685Tampa Reservations Center (for Continental Airlines)TampaJuly 2009
492Altadis USATampaAugust 2009
350Singleton SeafoodTampaMay 2007
301Fremont Investment & LoanTampaMay 2007
300Belleview Biltmore ResortClearwaterApril 2009
299BCK CommunicationsRiverviewJanuary 2007
275Medline IndustriesClearwaterAugust to October 2010
265GE Money-RCFTampaJune 2009
253One Source Landscape

& Golf Services
TampaDec. 2009



Bay area's worst layoffs

The PricewaterhouseCoopers layoffs of 500 people, a majority in Tampa, rank among the largest since the start of the recession. Since 2007, at least a dozen bay area companies have told the state they would shed more than 250 employees.

































































































































































Layoffs



Company



Location



Date



751



Home Depot Customer Contact Center



Riverview



January 2009



737



TeleTech Holdings



Tampa



April 2007



720



Smithfield Packing



Plant City



June 2009



685



Tampa Reservations Center (for Continental Airlines)



Tampa



July 2009



492



Altadis USA



Tampa



August 2009



350



Singleton Seafood



Tampa



May 2007



301



Fremont Investment & Loan



Tampa



May 2007



300



Belleview Biltmore Resort



Clearwater



April 2009



299



BCK Communications



Riverview



January 2007



275



Medline Industries



Clearwater



August to October 2010



265



GE Money-RCF



Tampa



June 2009



253



One Source Landscape

& Golf Services



Tampa



Dec. 2009

PricewaterhouseCoopers to lay off 500 workers, mostly in Tampa 07/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 11:31pm]
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