AT&T reduced headcount by 5,900 in the first three months of the year due in part to a 3.2% decline in its landline business. The layoffs occurred despite growth in its wireless business, which led the company to post a 39% rise in first-quarter profit, the company announced this morning.
"Reduction in headcount was due to a number of factors including normal attrition and surpluses in our shrinking wireline business," said spokesman Marty Richter in an email.
Richter would not say how many of the 5,900 were from the wireline business, or how many came through attrition or layoffs.
"We're consistently working to match our workforce to our customer base and the needs of the business. In those parts of our business that are growing we are adding jobs, most notably in retail stores and U-verse installation. At the same time, we are reducing some jobs in the parts of our business that are declining, particularly wireline," Richter said.
For AT&T employees, reductions of this size are nothing new. From 2006 through 2010, the company shed 37,590 jobs. At the end of the first quarter this year, the company had 260,690 employees.
"This is par for the course," said Joe Bonner, a telecom securities analyst at Argus Research Company, who noted that the company loses about 12% of its landline revenue a year.
AT&T workers are under even more strain this year as they await approval of their company's merger with T-Mobile, which some analysts predict could result in thousands of layoffs. AT&T has said that it hopes all employee synergies through attrition.
The Communication Workers of America, the union that represents more than half of AT&T's workers, was unable to say by deadline how many, if any, of the 5,900 reductions were from the unionized staff.
Write to Joseph Walker