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Washington Mutual Lays Off Nine Local Employees

{mosimage}Ripple effects from the nationwide mortgage and loans crisis hit Santa Barbara this week, when nine employees were laid off from Washington Mutual’s home-loan center at 1330 State St.


Ripple effects from the nationwide mortgage and loans crisis hit Santa Barbara this week, when nine employees were laid off from Washington Mutual’s home-loan center at 1330 State St.

The nine employees were among thousands who received their walking papers from Washington Mutual home-loan offices across the United States, company spokesman Gary Kishner said.

The cuts are part of the company’s plan to get out of the subprime mortgage business.

Kishner said he did not know what specific positions were affected in Santa Barbara, and a manager in the office at State Street near Sola Street said he was not authorized to speak with the media, but sources close to the situation say the terminated employees were assistants to the loan officers.

Across the nation, the company laid off 2,600 people in the home loans group, or 22 percent of that department, Kishner said. All told, 3,150 positions have been cut from the company, which, before the layoffs, employed a total of 50,000 people.

As was the case with virtually all of the company’s banking divisions, the two Washington Mutual financial offices in Santa Barbara will not be affected.

Despite the local layoffs, the Santa Barbara office on State and Sola will not be among the approximately 200 across the nation that will close, Kishner said. (About 145 will remain open.) However, the company’s other home-loan office in Santa Barbara County, in Santa Maria, will close.

But the closure resulted in the loss of only one job. Other employees in the satellite office may have been reassigned, Kishner said.

Kishner clarified that the company isn’t getting out of the home loan business.

“Consumers can still walk into any branch and get a plethora of home-loan options,” he said.

Today, the center at State Street was open but quiet, devoid of a receptionist at the front desk, near which stood a Christmas tree. The office bore the marks of a place shedding employees, with a dolly loaded with heavy boxes sitting next to an empty desk.

Kishner, who did not know how many people were employed at the Santa Barbara office, said the laid-off workers are encouraged to apply to other positions within the company.

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