CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - Hewlett-Packard of Conway announced Monday that 500 employees will be out of work by October, some of them as soon as next week.
$40,000 a year is the average salary for an HP call center worker. Now, with 500 of them being laid off, that is $20 million in lost wages for Conway workers. The money and the positions will be tough to replace, said city leaders.
City leaders call it a punch to the stomach of Conway's economy. One of its largest employers Hewlett Packard announcing by October, 500 of its employees will be out of a job.
"The skill set is not difficult. The number is difficult," said Brad Lacy, President of the Conway Chamber of Commerce.
Lacy said the 500 call center workers have plenty of skills to find other jobs but finding them all at once will not be easy.
"This economy trends a little more white collar, and so you'll have some opportunities there for some people but again, 500 people is just a lot of people to absorb," added Lacy.
Though they sting, the cuts shouldn't come as a surprise. HP announced a year ago they would be cutting 27,000 jobs company wide by 2014. The PC maker has yet to rebound in a smart phone, tablet run economy seeing a 16 percent profit drop earlier this year. Now Conway is feeling those losses, but Lacy hopes it won't last long.
"We've been on the phone with a couple of employers that we believe have some capacity to absorb some of these people, and we certainly want to work with HP in whatever their process is to help these people find employment," explained Lacy. "It's never easy to digest something like that, but it's reality none the less."
HP said they do plan to provide a 60-day severance package to all of those laid-off employees along with helping them find other work. Laid off employees told THV 11 they were reluctant to go on camera for fear of losing their severance package.
Hewlett-Packard said last year they plan to use the cost savings of all their layoffs to increase investments in cloud computing, big data and analytics, and security.
500 positions to be eliminated at Hewlett-Packard in Conway