Black beans for burritos, sliced pickles for paninis. Workers at Firebird Café prepared for the lunch crowd Wednesday. Many diners at the Essex Junction eatery are IBM employees.
"So, yeah, I'm concerned," owner Jake Tran said. "That segment of my customer base will drop."
News of layoffs at Big Blue not only has Jake Tran worried about his restaurant's bottom line, but what it means for his community, too.
"They're not just customers," he said. "We have developed relationships with these people. We are on a first name basis with these folks."
"It's not a good day for the Vermont economy and certainly a terrible day for the families effected," Vermont economist Jeff Carr said.
Carr crunched the numbers. His report shows for every 100 jobs lost at IBM, an additional 124 jobs are lost elsewhere in the state. And the ripple effect extends beyond vendors and suppliers in Vermont.
"Clothes, movies, cars, making the mortgage payment, being able to afford a house, paying property taxes," Carr said. "But also a wide variety of business, amusement and recreation, and movie theaters, places where people buy clothes, places where people buy food. Losing jobs in a high-paying manufacturing sector is not a good thing for the economy."
The Vermont Department of Labor says it wasn't caught off guard by the job cuts. It's been preparing since rumors started circulating weeks ago, mobilizing for a large-scale layoff.
But on Sunday's "You Can Quote Me," Vermont Commerce Secretary Lawrence Miller told us he didn't think more than 100 would be let go.
"If it were larger than that, I'd be surprised," Miller said. "But I don't know it's going to happen at all."
Now it's a reality, with some sources saying the number of job cuts is actually in the hundreds, leaving many in the community wondering if it's a recipe for more cuts.
"It's not an easy feeling," Tran said.
IBM is still one of the largest employers in the state. But layoffs are nothing new there. Since 2001, the company has reduced its workforce by more than half, from a high of 8,500 employees to about 4,000 before Wednesday's job cuts.
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