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Sherri Richards, Published July 09 2010

Microsoft, Wells Fargo cut jobs

Layoffs at two of the nation’s largest companies have hit home, though it’s unclear how many local employees will be affected.

Several people were laid off from Fargo’s Microsoft campus Wednesday, a local spokeswoman said Thursday. The Seattle Times reported that Microsoft was cutting a few hundred jobs companywide beginning Wednesday.

Microsoft spokeswoman Katie Hasbargen would not say specifically how many employees were laid off in Fargo, but that “they were not significant numbers.”

“It’s very small across the scope of the campus,” she said.

Microsoft employs about 900 people locally. That does not include about 500 vendors who also work on the south Fargo campus.

Hasbargen did confirm that fewer than 30 employees were let go. She would not say if the total number was less than 20.

“You’re dealing with families, and we understand that,” she said. “That’s why we keep as much of the information as confidential as possible.”

Wells Fargo announced Wednesday that it planned to cut 3,800 jobs and close all of its 638 consumer finance branches nationwide.

There are four Wells Fargo Financial stores in North Dakota, located in Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot and Bismarck. There are 13 in Minnesota. Stores typically have five to seven team members, said Steve Carlson, a Wells Fargo spokesman.

It is unknown how many of these employees will lose their jobs because some could move into positions within Wells Fargo banks or other entities, Carlson said. The restructuring will not affect the number of banks or home mortgage stores.

“From a customer’s perspective, there should be no disruption,” Carlson said. “Other than that store not being available for them to walk into if they had a reason to, they shouldn’t notice much of a difference at all.”

About 2,800 positions will be eliminated in the next 60 days and likely 1,000 in the next 12 months.

A news release said the 2008 merger of Wells Fargo with Wachovia eliminated the need for the separate network of financial offices, which offer loans and credit cards.

At Microsoft, Hasbargen said the reduction in force had to do with “changing strategy and rebalancing investments.” Microsoft’s fiscal year ended June 30.

“They’re really part of a normal business cycle,” she said. “It was not focused on any particular team. It was not focused on any particular region.”

Worldwide, Microsoft employs nearly 89,000 people.

The reductions are far smaller than Microsoft’s 2009 cuts of 5,800 employees. About 60 to 70 people were laid off in Fargo.

Fortune magazine’s 2009 list of largest companies in the U.S. ranked Microsoft 36th and Wells Fargo 44th.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556