T-Mobile is cutting 127 jobs at its Chattanooga call center next week as the wireless carrier grapples with rising costs related to adding more subscribers in a competitive market.
The job losses outlined in a notice filed by T-Mobile with the Tennessee Department of Labor last week are part of a companywide plan to trim its workforce by 7%, or more than 5,000 jobs at T-Mobile locations across the nation, by Nov. 2. T-Mobile says the staff reductions and other cost reductions made this year will help position the wireless carrier to better compete in the evolving mobile phone and internet marketplace.
"What it takes to attract and retain customers is materially more expensive than it was just a few quarters ago," T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said in an email to employees about the layoffs in late August. "This is a large change and an unusual one for our company. Because of this, we do not envision making additional large-scale reductions across the company again in the foreseeable future."
T-Mobile opened its $19 million call center in Chattanooga in 2006, and the local telemarketing staff swelled to nearly 900 workers before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. T-Mobile shifted most of its call center staff to remote work during the pandemic, and the local staff earned a top customer satisfaction award in 2021.
Sievert said some areas of T-Mobile's business are moving to more centralized models to improve efficiency and save costs. Rival AT&T also has announced cost-cutting plans in July to cut $2 billion in its expenses to better compete in the market.
The job cuts announced by T-Mobile last week are among nine major business layoffs announced so far this year in the Chattanooga region from a variety of manufacturers, retailers and office employers. Collectively, the state-required notices filed in Southeast Tennessee in 2023 reflect the loss of more than 1,000 local jobs since spring as businesses adapt to economic shifts coming out of the pandemic.
Major layoffs have come this year from the shutdown of the Eureka Foundry, National Seating & Mobility, and Volkswagen suppliers ThyssenKrupp and Grupo Antolina in Chattanooga, along with the closing of factories operated by Beiersdorf Manufacturing in Cleveland and Shaw Industries in Decatur, Tennessee, according to notices filed with the state.
Most employers with 100 or more employees are required to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of planned closings and mass layoffs of employees.
Shift in jobs
"Our thoughts are with the workers that have been impacted by this layoff," Charles Wood, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement Tuesday. "This and the other layoffs we have seen over the last year are a reminder that Chattanooga and Hamilton County need to stay focused on creating high-quality jobs and aggressively investing in our community to improve our competitive position for future economic development."
Despite the recent job cuts, employment in metropolitan Chattanooga still grew to an all-time high in July, and Chattanooga's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate this summer remained well below the U.S. rate and just above the all-time low of 2.6% reached in April.
Tennessee career centers listed 233,933 open jobs Tuesday. That is more than twice as many jobs as the number of Tennesseans counted as unemployed last month.