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JPMorgan cuts jobs in Albion

Rochester Business Journal
August 24, 2012

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is cutting 74 employees from its mortgage servicing unit in Albion, Orleans County, company representatives said this week.

Notices were distributed in mid-July, with the cuts effective as of mid-October, spokesman Michael Fusco said.

Fusco did not know the total employment at the former Washington Mutual Inc. call center, but he said the cuts amounted to 12 percent of the workforce. That would put employment at some 617 before the reductions and 543 afterward.

JPMorgan, with about 1,500 workers, is the largest employer among financial institutions in the Rochester market. The bank occupies half of the 26-story Chase Tower downtown.

The cuts in Orleans County are necessary because the mortgage servicing workload has lessened as the mortgage crisis has eased, Fusco said.

"More families are buying a home or refinancing their mortgage, and fewer borrowers are falling behind in the default servicing area," he said.

JPMorgan acquired Washington Mutual in September 2008 after federal regulators seized the Seattle-based bank and brokered a $1.9 billion sale.

At the time, about 800 people were employed at the Albion location. The call center had as many as 1,000 workers as recently as 2006, making Washington Mutual the largest employer in Orleans County.

The growth spurt originated in 2002 when Washington Mutual acquired Dime Bancorp Inc., including some 450 workers in Albion, and converted the facility to a phone-banking service center from a mortgage servicer and loan-processing center.

Employment grew to 800 by 2004 and peaked two years later.

"We understand that industries-and in this case the banking sector-go through downturns," said Gabrielle Barone, vice president of development with the Orleans County Industrial Development Agency.

"From our information, some of the displaced Chase employees are highly sought-after candidates for employment opportunities at similar operations in our county," Barone said.

The bank is helping those whose jobs were cut to find other employment in the area, Fusco said.

JPMorgan added some 255 employees to its home equity group during the last six months of 2009 and 25 more in 2010 as the mortgage crisis developed, increasing the downtown workforce to some 370.

It previously employed 280 in home equity here, but the number was reduced to 96 in 2008 after companywide consolidations in the group.

"When we acquired Washington Mutual, those employees transitioned over to mortgage servicing," Fusco said.

"Because we were dealing with such an unprecedented number of people falling behind on their homes, we really had to ramp up our staff. The employees in Albion were able to take on the servicing."

JPMorgan reported 925 employees in 2008, according to data compiled for the Rochester Business Journal's Book of Lists. The workforce dropped to 550 in 2009, jumped to 1,550 in 2010 and has stayed in that range for the last two years, data show.

The company, including JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. and J.P. Morgan Private Wealth Management in the local market, reported 1,500 employees this year. It ranks 14th on the most recent list of private-sector employers.

"Chase is a highly valued employer and strong community supporter, and we have every confidence in their continued role as a significant and well-respected employer," Barone said.

tadams@rbj.net / 585-546-8303

8/24/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

service@rbj.net.


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