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Computer Company To Lay Off 200 Locally

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —  

Hewlett-Packard plans to transfer 200 jobs from its Rio Rancho customer service and technical support center to a plant in Georgia by Oct. 31 as part of a plan to restructure the worldwide corporation, Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack confirmed Monday.

The Palo Alto-based computer and printer maker notified its 860 employees at the Rio Rancho plant in meetings on Monday, but did not say specifically when the layoffs would commence, Swisstack said.

Hewlett-Packard has no plans to move employees from Rio Rancho to its plant in Alpharetta, Ga., said Swisstack, who met with corporate officials on Monday to discuss the layoffs.

“Two hundred people are actually losing their jobs,” Swisstack said in a phone interview. The company may be able to offer Rio Rancho jobs to some of those employees, “but there aren’t many opportunities,” he said.

Hewlett-Packard pays employees an average of $50,000 a year at the Rio Rancho plant, Swisstack estimated. The layoffs are likely to affect workers throughout the plant, he said.

Swisstack estimated HP’s total payroll at $197 million in Rio Rancho since the plant opened there in 2009. He did not know the company’s annual Rio Rancho payroll.

“It’s disappointing that 200 people are going to lose their jobs,” Swisstack said. “These are highly trained people.”

Hewlett-Packard opened the three-story 218,000-square-foot facility in December 2009 in the city’s downtown City Center adjacent to City Hall. The company initially had plans to employ 1,350 full-time workers by late 2012, according to the city’s website.

The plant provides technical support to HP customers throughout the world, including both businesses and individuals.

Swisstack said the city of Rio Rancho will make every effort to help employees affected by the layoffs to find new jobs in New Mexico.

The Rio Rancho plant will continue to employ about 660 workers after HP completes the layoffs, Swisstack said. “That’s the bright side,” he said.

Swisstack said HP’s decision to move jobs to Georgia was not a consequence of any financial incentives that Georgia offered or that New Mexico had failed to offer.

“I know that because I asked them,” he said.

HP announced in May that it planned to trim 8 percent of its 350,000-person workforce worldwide as part of its plan to restructure the company.

In September, the company increased the projected number of layoffs to 29,000 by October 2014, up from the 27,000 cuts it announced in May.

HP made the announcement amid signs that the slumping market for personal computers could weaken even further as large numbers of consumers moved away from PCs to smart phones and tablet computers.

The announcement Monday is the first solid estimate of how the company’s worldwide retrenchment would affect workers in Rio Rancho.

HP confirmed in September that some layoffs had already occurred in Rio Rancho, but the company has consistently declined to identify a number.

One employee told the Journal in July that about a third of the 60 workers in the plant’s imaging and printing group had been told they would lose their jobs that month.

HP spokesman Michael Thacker told the Journal in September that a higher-than-expected number of people taking early retirement would help the company make the transition to a smaller workforce.

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