Comment and analysis on all things Charlotte

Just a Flesh Wound!

 

“Just a flesh wound! Nothing more than a flesh wound!”

I’m sure that’s what all the right shiny shoed people around here are repeating to themselves and anyone else who will listen about the announcement in the Wall Street Joural today that Bank of America is cutting 3,500 jobs this quarter, up to 10,000 over all.

The 3,500 job cuts include hundreds of positions in its investment banking and trading unit. Cuts in that business are expected to amount to 3% to 5% of its employees. Last fall, the investment bank imposed job cuts of about 3%.

The elimination of thousands of additional positions will initially hit consumer banking and mortgage operations, as well as legal, marketing and human resources.

Translation: The elimination will initially hit Charlotte. The above bolded portion represents just about everything the bank does in Charlotte. Even more problematic — it represents just about everything the bank does Uptown in Charlotte.  

As I’ve pointed out a lot lately, Bank of America is the Charlotte region’s third largest employer. The Charlotte Chamber estimates the number of jobs the bank has here at 10,000 to 16,000. You do the math. If the bank was ever going to politely bow out of what is left of its headquarters here, a lot of which is just a paper designation anyway, now would be the time to do it, with “financial reasons” as a solid excuse.

In that context, the bank’s repeated use of the term “broader restructuring” ought to scare the hell out of the uptown crowd.

Chief Executive Brian Moynihan says the bank wants to reduce expenses by $1.5 billion a quarter, which brings up another one-line gem in the article. Wells Fargo says they plan to reduce expenses by $1.5 billion a quarter, too. Wells Fargo is the region’s second largest employer.

All I keep hearing in my head is former Charotte Area Transit System CEO Ron Tober saying that to make our multi-billion dollar transit system work — we ultimately built/launched it to impress the banks and move shiny shoe bank types around — we’d need 100,000 jobs uptown. Five years ago, the Charlotte Observer claimed there were about 50,000 jobs uptown. At the rate we are going here, we’ll be lucky if that number hangs at 25,000 by the end of the decade, if we haven’t sunk that low already.

That’s because bank job cuts aren’t just bank job cuts. A large number of the jobs uptown have grown up around the banks in support services. And that’s no flesh wound.

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