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Why Sallie Mae is shifting jobs to U.S.

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Kai Ryssdal: The big merger and acquisitions news of the day is of a deal that seems to have come undone. This weekend Sun Microsystems said thanks but no thanks to IBM’s offer of $7 billion. Shares of both were down today, Sun’s way more than IBM, for whatever that tells you.

Almost any help-wanted ad is worth a mention the way the economy’s going. So it’s real news when 2,000 jobs open up. The company doing all this hiring is Sallie Mae — the country’s biggest student lender. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports that Sallie Mae wants voters to know all about its hiring spree.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Over the next 18 months, Sallie Mae will be signing up call center and information technology workers all in smaller towns in states such as Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida. Martha Holler is a Sallie Mae spokeswoman.

MARTHA HOLLER: These are good jobs. These are jobs that come with benefits, with 401k, with medical insurance, for part-timers for full-timers. We’re pleased to bring them and all the direct and indirect economic value that a good job brings to a local community.

These jobs were outsourced to the Philippines, India and Mexico a year ago. Moving them back will cost Sallie Mae $35 million and blow any anticipated savings.

HOLLER: The value of bringing 2,000 jobs back to the U.S. means more to Sallie Mae as an American company than any cost savings that we could achieve by farming the work out overseas


But some analysts say there might be another message in Sallie Mae’s domestic job creation. The Obama administration is proposing to take away most of its lending business. Mark Kantrowitz is publisher of the student-loan Web site

MARK KANTROWITZ: The lender may also be trying to suggest that if President Obama moves forward with his plans to eliminate the federally guaranteed student-loan program and replace it with the 100 percent direct lending, that may cost the U.S. tens of thousands of jobs across all the lenders.

If Congress approves the Obama budget proposal, Sallie Mae could still compete for contracts to service the government loans and collect payments.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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