AT&T Information Systems, the computer and telecommunications equipment arm of American Telephone & Telegraph Co., said yesterday it will lay off about 15 percent of its 2,690 Washington-area employes as part of its elimination of 24,000 jobs nationwide.
The company intends to drop 439 Washington-based employes by the end of the year, according to AT&T Information Systems spokesman Al Wann. "The largest part of that is coming out of the Beltsville customer service support facility," he said, adding that the operation is being "transferred to a like organization in New Jersey." About 200 employes will be affected by that move.
According to Wann, one-third of the employes being cut in the area are in management positions. Some of the employes will lose their jobs at the end of October; the rest will be laid off by the end of the year.
The layoffs are part of a sweeping nationwide cutback announced in late August by AT&T Information Systems, which has 117,000 employes. Company figures indicate that three states -- California, New York and New Jersey -- will bear the brunt of the reduction; each will lose more than 1,000 jobs as AT&T Information Systems seeks to trim and consolidate its work force in an effort to cut costs and improve profitability in what most analysts claim has been a lackluster division.
AT&T has confirmed estimates that the nationwide layoffs could save the company "hundreds of millions of dollars a year" and that a reserve fund of close to $900 million had been set up to handle the impact of the cuts.
AT&T's cutbacks had been expected in light of increasing competitive pressures in the business communications field.
The relative strength of the Northern Virginia, District and suburban Maryland economies may mean that AT&T workers who are laid off shouldn't have too much difficulty finding new jobs, according to a local analyst.
"Unless they have non-technical skills, they shouldn't have a problem finding re-employment," said Philip M. Dearborn, vice president of the Greater Washington Research Center, an economic research organization. "Even if they don't [have technical skills], generally, they should be in a pretty good position in this area to find new jobs."