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Tampa Bay area's '08 job losses trail statewide rate

Larger-scale layoffs are up 40 percent in Florida so far this year.

And seven weeks still remain in 2008.

It's a telling barometer of why the state unemployment in September jumped 2.3 percentage points to 6.6 percent and our economy is slipping deeper into recession.

Based on a tally of "WARN" notices — required reports to the state of mass layoffs and plant closings — 26,243 Florida jobs were lost from Jan. 1 through Wednesday. That's at least 7,500 more jobs lost this year jobs lost in all of 2007.

The silver lining is that the volume of jobs lost in the Tampa Bay area seems to be less — and certainly no worse — than last year.

So far this year, 3,087 jobs or just under 12 percent lost via mass layoffs or plant closings statewide are in the Tampa Bay area. That's better than last year when 4,003 or 21.4 percent of the state's 18,728 lost jobs in WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notices occurring in the Tampa Bay area.

There is a wild card in these numbers. Several large 2008 jobs cuts — notably 5,131 jobs lost at Albertsons after the supermarket chain decided to give up on the Florida market — are "statewide" and do not break down the impact by metro area. Add a fifth of the Albertsons' job losses into the Tampa Bay mix and the difference between the 2008 and 2007 numbers start to narrow.

Keep in mind we're only talking WARN Act job losses. Counting all job losses, Florida's lost more than 115,000 positions in the past year. But most of these occurred in layoff situations that did not trigger a WARN report to the state. It is these reports that provide such value in tracking who is making job cuts, and when.

Officially, the greatest number of job losses under the WARN requirements in the Tampa Bay area so far this year took place at Lear Corp. The Michigan automotive supplier plans to close its electronics components plant in Tampa and relocate most of those jobs to Mexico.

The combined count of job losses at Lear is 436. No other area business here has reported bigger numbers.

Last year, this area's biggest job cutter was Home Depot's customer contact center in Riverview, where 751 positions were cut.

Statewide this year, the runner-up to Albertsons was the 2,175 cuts announced by Space Gateway Support at the Kennedy Space Center. Space Gateway is the "city manager" for the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, including Kennedy Space Center and some area Air Force bases. The company's 10-year contract came to an end on Sept. 30.

Last year, the greatest number of announced job cuts statewide belonged to Miami's PRC, a call center operating company. PRC was bought in 2006 by a New York investment firm which later sued the seller, Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp., alleging it failed to disclose negative information about the company that later led to its bankruptcy. PRC is now out of bankruptcy.

• • •

Clarification: The Colony Beach & Tennis Club homeowners association — not the resort itself — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Tuesday's column was not clear on that point.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8405.

Tampa Bay area's '08 job losses trail statewide rate 11/12/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 10:24am]

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