Nationwide Mutual Insurance Cuts 480 Jobs in Latest Layoffs

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., based in Columbus, Ohio, on April 3 laid off 480 employees and contractors across the country, the latest round of job cuts from the insurance giant, a spokesman said.

Nationwide has eliminated about 3,000 jobs nationally over the past two years. The company lost $342 million last year as the industry dealt with claims from an unusually high number of hurricanes and a sharp drop in investment returns.

“We haven’t made it a secret that we’ve been looking at targeted work force changes to make us more efficient,” Nationwide spokesman Eric Hardgrove said.

The cuts came in the Nationwide’s information technology group and included 230 employees, with about 150 of those in central Ohio, he said. About 250 of the 480 people laid off were third-party contractors, Hardgrove said.

Those affected will receive an additional 60 days of pay in their severance packages, as well as assistance in finding a new job, Hardgrove said. They’ll also be eligible for some of the positions open in some of the insurance and financial services company’s other businesses, he said.

When Jerry Jurgensen stepped down as the company’s chief executive in February, he said he believed Nationwide had “avoided the worst of the problems that have bedeviled the financial sector.”

The moves were made as Labor Department data showed that the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.5 percent in March, the highest since late 1983. It also came several days after suburban Dublin-based Cardinal Health Inc. – one of central Ohio’s other major employers – said it would eliminate 1,300 jobs from its clinical and medical products unit.

Jurgensen had served as Nationwide’s CEO since 2000. He was replaced by President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Rasmussen, who warned in February that additional job reductions were possible.

Hardgrove wouldn’t say whether more layoffs would come from the company’s ongoing cost-cutting initiative.

“If other plans arise, we would communicate that to our associates first,” he said.

The company has about 35,000 employees, including about 11,000 in central Ohio.