IBM Layoffs Having Dramatic Effects Across North America

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IBM has initiated another round of layoffs, and while the national story is concerned with the total number of employees dismissed--anywhere from 6000 to 8000 employees, according to some estimations--if you take a closer look at the towns and cities affected, the story has much more impact. News organizations covering the areas where IBM employees entered unemployment present a much different picture when compared to the simple "statistical casualties of the economy" approach. The local reaction offers a personal look at how these layoffs, which are done to improve a company's bottom line.

In New York's Westchester and Dutchess Counties, IBM's clean sweep affected more than 700 people. In Ottawa, Canada, another 200 IBM employees were shown the door. Understandably, the word "overjoyed" would not be used to describe the tone:

CTV Ottawa reporter John Hua has been talking to employees who say the mood inside the campus is "gloomy". Employees told Hua that up to 20 per cent of the Ottawa staff have received layoff notices. Some have been employed with IBM/Cognos in the capital for more than 30 years.

Meanwhile, the state of Vermont is waiting to hear how many IBM employees added to that state's unemployment list:

Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement released by his office, "We heard from IBM today that sites around the United States, including the Essex facility, will be notified of a workforce reorganization that will result in layoffs. I am always concerned when we learn that Vermonters face job losses."

Of course, if someone was talented to get a job working for IBM, it stands to reason they have acquired enough skills to be effective at other stops in the technology industry. That being said, most people like to make such decisions voluntarily, not because they were caught in a "workforce remix" whirlwind. Furthermore, if you are one of the employees who was laid off after 30 years of service, changing careers probably didn't sound like the best idea, at least before the layoffs were announced.

Thanks to the significant national attention that comes whenever a company like IBM cuts its workforce, many of the local governments for the areas involved are announcing the establishment of programs to assist those who were shown the door.

Courtesies here, here, and here.

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