Banking & Finance

HSBC Plans to Fire Equivalent of Small American City

British financial giant HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE: HSBC) will move forward with the 35,000 layoffs it delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is from a total of about 235,000. The primary reason for the cuts is an attempt by CEO Noel Quinn to save $4.5 billion via cost reductions in the next two years. In the abstract, it is hard to imagine how many people will be jobless. To make the number more concrete, note that the figure is equivalent to the population of a small American city.

Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has a population of 25,880, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The figure is 10,000 short of the HSBC cuts. The population has doubled since 1930, during the midst of the Great Recession. Today, Stevens Point has been called one of the best American cities to live in. It is also considered one of the best places in America to retire.

Stevens Point’s unemployment rate before the pandemic hit the U.S. workforce hard was 3.5%, just below the national figure. Of course, the unemployment rate among the fired HSBC employees will be 100%, at least for a short time. As is the case with many huge layoffs, some people may not have work for months, or even longer.

The Stevens Point population is almost entirely white (89.5%) and just over half is female (51.4%).


The median household income of Stevens Point is low compared to the American nationwide number. At $45,040, it is about $15,000 shy. HSBC CEO Quinn makes $1.7 million a year, plus bonuses and stock awards. His base pay likely is 30 to 40 times the income of the workers he has started to fire.

The poverty level is unusually high at 21.6%. The median value of a home is also relatively low at $136,000.

Stevens Point is like many other small American cities. Twenty-two percent of the residents are children under 18, while 12% are people over 65.

The point of the Stevens Point comparison is that the HSBC figures are not just an abstract number.