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WorldCom Lays Off 530 Employees Locally

July 10-16, 2002

The 530 employees laid off from WorldCom, Inc. in Ashburn likely “will be absorbed in the regional economy,” according to Randy Collins, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce.

“We have some of the best people employed in Internet technology and the Internet world,” Collins said about the staff at the WorldCom and other technology facilities located in the county. “If you are going to be out of work, this is not a bad area to be out of work in.”

On June 28, WorldCom, Inc. laid off 17,000 employees, 13 percent or 1,300 of the employees from Virginia facilities. The digital communications provider cut one-sixth of the 7,800 employees working in the state, including more than 5,000 employees from the Ashburn facility, which houses the Network Operations Center. The number of employees at the Ashburn facility were identified by the Department of Economic Development in January 2002.

WorldCom, Inc. discontinued some of its operations and made cuts in operations and technology functions and terminated contracts to save $900 million annually. To make further cuts, the company plans to end several non-core businesses, including exiting the wireless resale business and selling other wireless assets. The changes are expected to save the company about $2 billion a year.

The company planned the layoffs several weeks ago, layoffs that are not related to the $3.8 billion that was improperly accounted for in company expenses, said Tim Guillen, spokesperson for WorldCom, Inc. “These layoffs were one of the steps we were taking to align costs with revenues and to better position the company for future growth,” he said.

LOUDOUN’S LEADERS said they were not sure if the layoffs would affect the county’s economy. WorldCom, Inc. is one of the top employers for Loudoun, second to United Air Lines and represents about 4 percent of the county’s total workforce. Loudoun has nearly 5,000 businesses located in the county and a civilian workforce of 101,600 employees, according to the Department of Economic Development.

“In terms of the total effect of WorldCom, we won’t know until this plays out in the coming days and weeks depending on what happens with the company,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At Large). “The real question is the effect it will have on those families.”

“How it would affect the economy is wait to be seen,” said Collins, adding that any layoffs from a major employer can affect the local and regional economy.

WorldCom, which operates in more than 65 countries, provides data and Internet services for businesses.