Industry watchers estimate that IBM may have slashed almost 700 U.S. workers from its payrolls Monday, including many in Rochester.
Speculation by some IBM insiders estimated as many as 160 Rochester area employees may have lost their jobs. However, the company would not comment on any job cuts here or elsewhere.
"These cuts, like before, start out low and then build as we gather information," said Lee Conrad, the Alliance@IBM spokesman in New York state. He cautioned that the numbers could grow over the next few days as more information is received from laid-off workers.
Many workers told Conrad's group that their jobs were being moved overseas to places like China or Slovakia.
One laid-off IBM employee told the Post-Bulletin that his manager stated that none of the laid-off workers would leave the company before the end of March and none would stay beyond the end of June.
Local IBMers confirmed anonymously that some Rochester jobs were cut, but none hazarded an estimate.
A Rochester man who had worked for IBM for more than 20 years was among those notified. Layoff materials he received show that 58 people were laid off from the same department, though not all in Rochester.
"Just received RA (Resource Action or layoff notice) at the Rochester MN site at 9 a.m. ... I am in shock, but also a little happy to be out of … Big Blue," read one layoff comment posted on the Alliance@IBM website.
For many years, IBM has declined to say how many people it employs here or elsewhere. The last official IBM tally of its workers in Rochester was 4,200 at the end of 2008.
While IBM is commonly believed to be Rochester's second-largest employer behind Mayo Clinic, it is unknown if that is still accurate.
The technology giant has a policy of not releasing specific information about layoffs, which it calls "resource actions."
"IBM is constantly re-balancing its work force. That means reducing in some areas and hiring in others, based on shifts in technology and client demand," wrote IBM spokesman Doug Shelton in a statement Monday. "And given the competitive nature of our business, we do not publicly discuss the details of our staffing plans."
For one 14-year IBM employee from North Carolina who asked to remain anonymous, being laid off was almost a relief.
"The constant worry about layoffs has been in the air for at least the past eight years," said the employee.