- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Lucent Technologies plans to close a Maryland research and development center by the end of this month, sending 110 data-networking jobs from Landover to Bangalore, India, the company said yesterday.

Lucent’s decision reflects a broader trend of U.S. technology companies establishing or expanding operations in India, China, Ireland and other nations, sometimes at the expense of U.S. jobs.

“Moving offshore, in one way, it produces a cost savings. But that’s not the only reason. We are a global company, and it helps to have operations located where we do business,” said Dick Muldoon, spokesman for the Murray Hills, N.J.-based company.

Lucent also will cut 40 jobs from a facility in Westford, Mass..

Both the Massachusetts and Maryland operations work on PacketStar PSAX, a product that delivers voice, data and video transmission over computer networks.

Lucent has been cutting its U.S. work force since 2001.

In the fall of 2000, Lucent had about 126,000 employees, 73 percent in the United States. By September 2004, the company had 31,800 workers with 63 percent of its work force in the United States, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The reductions have helped the company cut nearly $1 billion in general and administrative expenses since 2002, according to SEC filings.

“Offshoring” became a frequent topic of debate during the 2004 presidential election and continues to draw attention amid concern that well-paying technology, service and manufacturing jobs are moving to lower-wage countries.

The Labor Department reported 16,073 U.S. jobs relocating overseas in 2004, although the number probably reflects only a portion of all jobs shifted overseas because of the way the layoffs are measured.

Forrester Research, a consulting firm, last year projected outsourced U.S. jobs would reach 3.3 million by 2015.

“Ninety percent of the people who get laid off end up with two jobs to try and make up the difference [in salary]. All this talk about growth and jobs, none that you find today are better than those [jobs] that have left,” said Ralph Maly, vice president of communications at the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents Lucent, AT&T; and other telecommunications workers.

Some say U.S. consumers benefit from the shifts, which help companies hold down costs.

“Overall, offshoring will offer economic gains,” said a report released last year by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Overseas outsourcing affects fewer than 2 percent of Americans who lose their jobs each year, the report said.

Kwasi Holman, president of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., said the relocation is not good news, but he does not see it as part of a larger phenomenon affecting the county.

“I wouldn’t call it a trend at this point. The majority of employers we’ve contacted are not leaving,” Mr. Holman said.

Mr. Holman estimated that there are 40,000 technology jobs in the county.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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