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Chastened banks slash positions


April 25. 2013 11:48PM
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NEW YORK — Banks aren’t the big jobs machines they used to be.


One after another, major financial firms are trimming their payrolls. In first-quarter earnings announcements this month, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley revealed that they have slashed more than 31,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent of their combined workforce, in the past year. For three of those banks, it was the second consecutive year of cutbacks. And the pattern is being repeated at banks around the world.


Layoffs in the depths of the financial crisis were to be expected. But four years later, and at a time when many banks are reporting higher or even record earnings, the cuts are unsettling to an entire industry.


The losses are an unwelcome reminder of the meltdown and its lingering effects. A slow, halting recovery has kept loan demand in check. Low interest rates are crimping profits from lending.


New regulations have extinguished old sources of revenue, and compliance is expensive. Steven Mann, chairman of the finance department at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, says many of his students have given up on banking jobs.


“In 2005, 2006, 2007, I’d ask, ‘Do you want to go work at a bank?’ and the answer was always yes,” he says. “Now the answer is no one.”




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