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   | 2000 Globe 100 |

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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Business / 2001 Globe 100

Employment figures show ups and downs

Newer firms reshaping list

By Jerry Ackerman, Globe Staff, 5/22/2001


he economy's ups and downs last year were reflected in worldwide employment statistics posted by Massachusetts' biggest employers at year's end.

Some might read the numbers as reflecting stability.

Indeed. Nine of the top 10 firms on the list of largest employers in 2000 - most of them established names in manufacturing, retailing, or financial services - also were the pace setters the year before.

But the variations within that group of pace-setting companies are harder to interpret - while the growing role of new-economy Internet and telecommunications companies is reshaping the list, from the bottom up.

Raytheon Co. remained in the lead as the state's largest private-sector employer, but the Lexington-based defense contractor's head count of 93,700 at its locations around the world was down 11,600 from the year before.

Similarly, Gillette Co., while holding firm in fifth place, had 12 percent fewer employees at the end of the year in its network of plants, which stretches from Boston to Shanghai.

But another Massachusetts manufacturing leader, EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, a top maker of computer data storage systems, moved into sixth place, up two notches from 1999. The 6,400 people added to EMC's payroll represented a gain of 36 percent.

Two big Massachusetts retailers, TJX Cos. and Staples Inc., also showed significant growth.

Framingham-based TJX, which operates T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and other chains, remained in second place on the employment list, with 67,000 people on its payroll in the United States, Canada, and Europe, an 8 percent gain.

Staples, the office supplies superstore chain, with corporate offices also in Framingham, moved into third position by adding 10,450 employees, a 24 percent increase, while opening 200 new stores last year in North America and overseas.

The growing importance of Internet companies and suppliers to the telecommunications industry was symbolized by the initial appearance on this list of CMGI Inc., the Andover Internet investment conglomerate, in 28th position.

Sapient Corp., a Cambridge consulting firm specializing in Internet applications and electronic commerce, also made its debut on the list, in 39th place.

Cambridge Technology Partners Inc. of Cambridge, which does both corporate software and Internet consulting, rose to 36th place on the list, from 38th last year.

But it did so with 375 fewer employees, as management dealt with setbacks in the company's e-commerce operations.

American Tower Corp. of Boston, a supplier of wireless telecommunications transmission facilities, is also new to the list, with 3,300 employees at the end of December.

At Arch Wireless Inc. of Westborough, another wireless transmission operator, the payroll last year grew by 67 percent, to 8,350, as the company built out its national network through a series of acquisitions.

As important as technology remains to the Bay State, the top employers include several large national retailers.

BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. of Natick reported an employment boost of about 9 percent in 2000, while Neiman Marcus Group in Newton posted 2 percent employment growth.

Gone, however, was Bradlees Inc., the Braintree-based discount retailer that employed 10,000 across the Eastern United States in 1999 but, after repeated bouts with bankruptcy, called it quits last year.

Troubles also hit another Massachusetts icon, Friendly Ice Cream Corp., based in Wilbraham. It closed more than 100 restaurants and shed 6,000 employees as it coped with high debt.

FleetBoston Financial Corp., the product of the 1999 merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp., was also smaller at the end of 2000. The nation's seventh-largest bank was down 6,200 employees, or about 10 percent of its work force, after the additional divestiture of branch banking facilities to meet regulatory requirements.

The sole newcomer among the top 10 Massachusetts employers on the list was Boston Scientific Corp., a Natick manufacturer of medical devices, including stents used in angioplasty and heart surgery.

But even as Boston Scientific reported a 9 percent gain in employment at home and abroad, to 13,720 employees altogether, it was moving ahead with plans to close plants and lay off workers in its quest to prop up profits.

Jerry Ackerman can be reached by e-mail at ackerman@globe.com.


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