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Microsoft planning on cutting 'very small percentage' of Fargo workforce

Microsoft's Fargo campus1 / 3
The Microsoft campus is seen Thursday in south Fargo. (Carrie Snyder/The Forum)2 / 3
Workers continue construction Thursday on the Microsoft building in south Fargo. (Carrie Snyder/The Forum)3 / 3

FARGO - Possibly 40 to 50 Microsoft Fargo employees found out when they went to work on Thursday that they no longer had a job - the latest in a string of job cuts at major Fargo-area employers.

Microsoft Fargo said it cut "a very small percentage" of its work force as part of 1,400 companywide job cuts Microsoft Corp. announced on Thursday, a company spokeswoman told The Forum.

Beth Jordan, Microsoft spokeswoman, said she could not release the number of local jobs cut, nor could she release information about the positions.

But 40 to 50 Microsoft Fargo employees may have received layoff notices, said several anonymous sources, including laid-off employees who did not want to give their names because they hope to find other jobs within the company.

Microsoft Fargo has about 1,017 employees, a number that doesn't include vendor staff.

Microsoft Corp. announced it will cut an additional 3,600 jobs companywide over the next 18 months because of deteriorating global economic conditions.

Jordan could not say if there will be more job cuts at Microsoft Fargo. She said most of the cuts will be at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., facility, where the company is based.

Microsoft also plans to cut facility costs, but Jordan does not know how it will affect Microsoft Fargo's 185,000-square-foot building and expansion project.

A spokeswoman for the construction firm working on the expansion, however, says, "Everything is full-steam ahead."

Noelle Hawton of Tunheim Partners, a Bloomington, Minn., public relations firm that represents JE Dunn Construction North Central of Eden Prairie, Minn., said construction is continuing as planned.

Employees were let go before a 10 a.m. conference call and webcast detailing company performance, Jordan said.

Severance benefits will be available, said Katie Hasbargen, Microsoft Fargo spokeswoman.

"We're certainly in the midst of once-in-a-lifetime economic conditions," Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer said during the conference call. "Neither the consumer nor the business side of the technology industry is immune."

There will be no pay raises in the next fiscal year, Chris Liddell, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said during the call.

Microsoft is continuing with some of its traditional compensation bonuses as a way to make sure employees are motivated to perform, Jordan said.

"You'll see those pools shrink, though," she said.

Microsoft Corp. plans to significantly reduce vendor and contingent staff expenses, Liddell said, but Jordan said there is no word on vendor or contractor staff cuts in Fargo. As of November, Microsoft Fargo had 500 vendor staff.