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First Data lays off 70 to 75 people

January 24, 2002

First Data lays off 70 to 75 people



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

First Data Merchant Services is laying off 70 to 75 employees at its Hagerstown office, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

First Data, which processes credit card transactions, had 2,088 employees at its facility on Western Maryland Parkway at the end of 2001, said John Howard, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington Economic Development Commission. The company was the fifth largest employer in Washington County in 2000, Howard said.

The layoffs at Hagerstown were among approximately 200 positions cut by the company worldwide as part of a "job consolidation effort," said First Data spokesman Rodney Bell.

First Data has about 29,000 employees in offices worldwide, he said.

The layoffs announced Wednesday come on top of 50 layoffs at the Hagerstown office that were announced in July.

Bell said both rounds of layoffs were "a consolidation of some positions."

When asked if more layoffs are coming to the Hagerstown facility, Bell said, "We do not comment on or try to predict the future."

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He said First Data has no plans to close the Hagerstown office.

The company will try to help those laid off find a new job, as well as provide job interviewing and resume writing training, he said.

Bell said employees were notified of the layoffs on Wednesday, but he would not say when the layoffs take effect.

Bell would not say what kinds of jobs were cut.

Howard said, "We recognize that a national recovery is still necessary and companies are taking steps to improve profits."

But Howard said those losing their jobs should be able to find new work locally.

The unemployment rate in Washington County was 4.2 percent in November, he said, adding that any unemployment rate under 5 percent is considered low unemployment.

"The marketplace is looking for employees right now," Howard said.

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