By Bill Hethcock, Staff Writer, Dallas Business Journal
On one hand, the planned 4,000 jobs from Toyota’s move into Plano and 8,000 jobs from State Farm’s regional headquarters in Richardson are cause for celebration on the North Texas employment front.
On the other hand, the recent announcements totaling more than 1,400 combined layoffs by Motorola Mobility and Bank of America in Fort Worth, Express Scripts in Fort Worth and Irving, Colgate-Palmolive in Dallas and others leave the jobs counters scratching their heads.
Just when it seems like the North Texas economic engine is firing on all cylinders, the “check engine” light comes on.
Don’t panic, said Jim Thompson, president and CEO of The InSource Group, a Dallas-based staffing and placement company. The layoffs are a natural part of the cycle, he told me in an interview.
“In any market, in any economy, companies are going to make adjustments that they believe are going to increase productivity, cut expenses and consolidate efficiencies,” Thompson said. “That’s a normal, ongoing part of running a business.”
One of the recent casualties is Express Scripts Inc., the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager, which plans to lay off more than 560 employees in its offices in Fort Worth and Irving, including nearly 150 high-paying pharmacist positions, according to a letter filed last month with the Texas Workforce Commission.
The company is closing its operations in both cities, said Brian Henry, vice president of corporate communication.
St. Louis-based Express Scripts last year lost a major client, United Healthcare, when United decided to handle its pharmacy needs in-house, Henry said. In addition, Express Scripts bought Medco Health Solutions for $29 billion in 2012, prompting a re-evaluation of resources, he said.
“We’ve been evaluating our site footprint since our merger,” Henry said. “As you look at the resources we have across the country, there were some places where the network can be met more efficiently, and that was part of the decision there in Texas.”
Also in the gloom category, disappointing sales of Motorola’s Moto X smartphone is prompting that company to close its factory in north Fort Worth by year’s end, putting about 700 assemblers out of work. Motorola Mobility opened the factory — its only U.S. smartphone plant — just last year.
Bank of America, meanwhile, will lay off 58 employees from two Fort Worth offices this month. In a letter to the Workforce Commission, the bank said it plans to terminate the employees from its Legacy Asset Servicing unit in an effort to further consolidate and reduce staff. The bank previously laid off 36 employees at the two sites in March.
“The number of delinquent mortgage loans we service has decreased to one-fourth their peak levels,” said Jumana Bauwens, the bank’s senior vice president of communications.
And Colgate-Palmolive Co. plans to permanently close its Dallas imprinted toothbrush manufacturing plant, laying off 95 employees by June 30, according to a letter filed with the Texas Workforce Commission. More layoffs are expected beginning in the third quarter of 2015 as manufacturing shifts to Tennessee, and Colgate-Palmolive will file new documents with the Workforce Commission as those position elimination dates get closer.
While the job losses sting for the individuals laid off, in the big picture, the rash of layoffs pales in comparison to the benefit the region will reap from the jobs that Toyota, State Farm and Amazon will bring, Thompson said.
Amazon recently signed a lease for more than 88,000 square feet of office space at Galleria Tower II in North Dallas, although no specific job numbers have been associated with that lease. Toyota is bringing more than 4,000 jobs to North Texas by relocating its North American corporate headquarters from California to West Plano, and State Farm Insurance is developing a regional hub in Richardson that will house upwards of 8,000 employees.
“If you were to create a plus/minus list, I’d clearly rather be on the Amazon, Toyota, State Farm side of that list,” Thompson said.