Early Briefing: Employers Cutting Back

*Employers are moving to aggressively cut jobs and reduce costs in the face of the nation's economic crisis, preparing for what many fear will be a long and painful recession.

"The customers I've spoken to are all living under a sense of fear," said Paul Villella, chief executive of HireStrategy, a Reston company that matches employers and workers. "They have very limited visibility into the future, and have a great degree of uncertainty, so they just want to sit steady and be conservative in hiring."

*One of every in five college-educated immigrants in the United States is unemployed or working in an unskilled job such as a dishwasher, fast-food restaurant cashier or security guard, depriving the U.S. economy of the full potential of more than 1.3 million foreign-born workers, according to a study released yesterday. Immigrants in the Washington area are among the most educated in the country, and the plight of those who are underemployed is familiar to anyone who has gotten a ride from D.C. cabdriver with an engineering degree from Ethiopia or had a car parked by a garage attendant who used to practice law in El Salvador. However, the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute is the first to quantify the extent of the problem.

*Sallie Mae reported a $159 million loss in the third quarter as the ongoing credit crisis pushed up costs for the nation's largest student lender and it wrote down the value of certain contracts it uses to hedge against risk. The Reston-based company said its core business of making student loans remained profitable despite the turmoil in financial markets. It credited a move by the Bush administration in May to buy up federally backed subsidized student loans as a key reason it was able to continue lending money. The company's third-quarter loss of $159 million, or 40 cents per share, compared with a loss of $344 million, or 85 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2007.

*D.C. officials unveiled plans Wednesday to partner with the federal government on a major redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Southeast Washington, which they said will turn the walled-off mental hospital into a thriving neighborhood center. Under the proposal, the city, which controls 173 acres on the east campus, would offer a parcel of land to house a federal agency. That would be used to complement the Department of Homeland Security, which is being relocated to the 183-acre west campus, just across Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

*Williams Industries of Manassas said it filed a Form 15 with the Securities and Exchange Commission taking the company "dark," a condition in which it will no longer have to file quarterly and annual reports. Williams said it completed a tender offer to reduce the number of shareholders and take the company dark Oct. 17.

By Terri Rupar  |  October 23, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Morning Brief
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