Thousands lost jobs this year in Georgia, according to layoff list

2016’s largest layoff notices in Georgia

Under federal law, employers are supposed to give workers and state agencies a 60-day notice of major layoffs or plant closings. Here are the largest so far in the state, with the expected date of the job cut:

Reliant Transportation, Savannah, 720 employees, May 27

WellStar Health System, Marietta, 521 employees, July 9

Concentrix Corp., Norcross, 454 employees, May 7

MARTA, Atlanta, 371 employees, March 25

Road America Motor Club, Columbus, 285 employees, Feb. 12

Fibrant, Augusta, 285 employees, June 30

Delta Global Services, Atlanta, 275 employees, March 15

Aramark Educational Services, Carrollton, 234 employees, April 30

Chartwells, Valdosta, 225 employees, April 29

Caterpillar, Thomasville, 210 employees, March 8

Source: Georgia Department of Economic Development

Even seven years into an economic recovery, companies continue to shut down or shed operations, affecting thousands of Georgia employees.

EchoStar Technologies is one of the latest companies to warn employees of impending job cuts. The Colorado communications firm recently filed a notice that it expects to shut down its metro Atlanta engineering office in October, eliminating 137 employees.

“After detailed financial analysis taking into account many factors, EchoStar Management has made the difficult decision to close our Atlanta facility,” said spokeswoman Sonya Modi in an email. She said the company will provide employees with “various means of assistance … to help with the transition process.”

So far this year, more than 60 companies have filed notices with the Georgia Department of Economic Development that they're planning mass layoffs or closures of offices or plants in Georgia.

That’s about the same pace as last year, according to the state agency’s figures.

Companies have filed notices of plans to lay off more than 6,800 employees this year, slightly less than the 7,000 job cuts announced through August last year.

For all of 2015, companies filed 86 notices for 10,683 job cuts.

To some extent, the notices are raw data. Sometimes companies lay off more people or fewer than projected in their notices. In some cases the companies file notices as the result of contracting out the work; the former employees keep working at the same location, but with a new employer.

The notices are a requirement of a 1989 federal law, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, which requires companies to give employees and state officials 60 days’ notice, in most cases, of a planned plant closure or mass layoff.

With the largest concentration of employers in the state, metro Atlanta’s factories and offices account for the largest share of those job cuts, with roughly 60 percent of all layoffs in Georgia.

In June, chemical company Fibrant closed an Augusta plant, eliminating hundreds of jobs. Likewise, hundreds lost their jobs when Miami-based Road America Motor Club closed a call center in Columbus in February.

In the largest job notice so far this year in Georgia, Reliant Transportation said it was cutting 720 people after leaving a year early from a troubled contract with the Savannah-Chatham school district to run its school bus operation. Reliant, a unit of Dallas-based MV Transportation, closed its operation in May and the school district took over, hiring most of the employees.

In the largest job notice in metro Atlanta, Marietta-based WellStar Health Systems filed a notice with the state economic development agency that it planned to lay off 521 employees in July.

However, the hospital operator said it was shifting the employees to another firm.

“We didn’t fire anybody,” said Tyler Pearson, spokesman for WellStar, a non-profit company that operates 11 hospitals, mostly around metro Atlanta.

The 500-plus former WellStar billing and clerical employees “were transitioned to another employer,” said Pearson. “There’s no change really for them. They’re like contractors.”

Pearson said the people now work for Conifer Health Solutions, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp.

He said WellStar made the move after acquiring five hospitals in April, including Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, that were previously using Conifer to handle their patient billing tasks.