BellSouth to lay off 1,500

BellSouth Corp. said it is laying off 1,500 management employees, about 2.4 percent of its 63,000 workers.

The Atlanta-based voice and data service provider, which also owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless, will make the reductions among supervisors and nonsupervisory management positions, as well as staff support workers, CEO Duane Ackerman said in a short statement yesterday.

"Reducing workforce is the toughest business decision a company has to make," he said. "We have worked hard to avoid it."

But he said many companies the same size, including competitors, operate with lower overhead and few management layers.

The cuts are a reflection of the heated competition in the service provider market following major consolidations in the past 12 months, said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst based in Atlanta.

"Chalk this [round of cuts] up to the cost of competition," Kagan said. Between 2000 and 2003, BellSouth cut more than 7,000 workers, he said. "BellSouth must remain cost-competitive with increasing competition from the cable television industry and from the wireless industry."