NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Unemployment may be improving, but several banks continue to layoff employees as the result of mergers, dumping underperforming businesses and cutting expenses.

"There have been layoffs in the past three or fourth months as banks reevaluate employees to trim underperformers and recruit other, higher performing individuals," said Capstone Partnership partner Maurice Toueg.

In some cases layoffs have been overshadowed by recruitment in other areas of the bank. Toueg says that smaller banks are more likely to recruit, especially for customer facing positions.

In fact, over 57 percent of hiring managers and recruiters anticipate employee poaching to become more aggressive this year, according to a study conducted by eFinancial Careers. In addition, the environment has become even more competitive as several top banks are recruiting talent from outside Wall Street and turning to industry specialists in technology, accounting, consulting, legal and energy.

"This aggressive mindset will put more pressure on firms who can't afford to lose the talent they already have in place," said Constance Melrose, managing director of eFinancial Careers. "It's important for firms to assess their key employees and have plans in place to retain, promote or prepare to hire."

As banks reassess their operations, merge or restructure, many jobs will be cut. Here are the top ten banks with looming layoffs.

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First Niagara

First Niagara Financial Group ( FNFG) is laying off employees after acquiring NewAlliance Bancshares ( NAL) for $1.5 billion in August 2010.

The bank said it is letting go 230 people in Connecticut between April 15 of this year and January 2012. Employees were notified of layoffs earlier this month. The bank also filed papers with state that may result in layoffs of 126 people in New Haven and 93 people in Manchester.

While First Niagara does not plan to close any offices due to the merger, it is eliminating duplicate backroom positions, according to The Buffalo News. . The bank is also supposedly going to add back 180 branch jobs.

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M&T Bank Corp.

Over 700 layoffs will be the result of M&T Bank Corp. 's ( MTB) acquisition of Wilmington Trust ( WL) for $351 million in November 2010. The merger will result in a cut of approximately a quarter of Wilmington's original workforce.

The layoffs, which were announced in November, will be completed later this year. In Delaware over 721 employees will lose their jobs. The layoffs will primarily be in back office including lawyers, human resources and information technology. The company plans to spend $23 million on severance payments, according to The Wall Street Journal

The state of Delaware expects to lose $1 million in revenue due to layoffs from the merger, according to Delaware's News Journal.

The merger will be voted on by Wilmington Trust shareholders on March 22.

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Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo ( WFC) has been laying off employees across the country as it consolidates operations, finishes integrating Wachovia and eliminates offices due to the closure of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) program.

Earlier in February the bank let go over 200 employees in Des Moines, Iowa in its Home Affordable Refinance Program division, according to The St Louis Post Dispatch.

Also this month the bank laid off 145 employees in its mortgage division in Orange County, California, according to The Orange County Register.The layoff are part of Wells Fargo's plans to close all 638 offices and cutting 2,000 employees as the company exited the subprime mortgage business announced in July of last year.

This month the bank also cut 142 employees from an auto loan collection office in Kansas City recently, according to The Kansas City Star

Overall, Wells Fargo reported $4.4 million in severance charges in its fourth quarter earnings announcement.

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PNC Financial Services

PNC Financial Services Group ( WFC) has been gradually cutting down jobs in various different business operations across the country.

This month the bank announced it is eliminating 58 information technology jobs in Cleveland and 30 jobs at its mortgage-servicing operation in Miamisburg, which is close to Dayton, Ohio.

The bank is also closing a branch near Dayton, but did not say how many people would be laid off, according to The Dayton Business Journal.

"PNC like most other business is constantly evaluating the business needs to make sure our customers are taken care of. From time to time that results in staffing adjustments and changes in our branch network," said PNC spokesperson Amy Vargo. "It is just part of the ebb and flow of our business."

PNC said it is also hiring in other areas of its business.

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Bank of America

Bank of America ( BAC) is eliminating several retail branches across the country as part of an overall restructuring effort, which means it will also be eliminating more jobs.

The bank has said it will close several of its 5,856 retail branches this year and try to boost revenue by offering investment advice through using video conferencing, according to Bloomberg. . No word on how many positions will be eliminated as it closes those branches.

Bank of America is also continuing to eliminate non-core businesses and discontinue partnerships like its partnership with the state of New York for a tax center near Kingston, New York. That may possibly mean the elimination of 100 Bank of America full time employees. The site also employs 1,500 seasonal workers on-site through May. The bank has not made any final decisions on cutting the positions, but is considering it as more and more people file taxes electronically, according to The Times Union.

The bank also laid off employees in its Global Technology & Operations division in December and Capital Markets divisions. Bank of America is also rumored to be laying off junior bankers in its investment banking division.

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Barclays ( BCS) has reportedly been looking at layoffs as the bank trims over $1 billion in expenses by 2013. Barclays CEO Robert Diamond said the bank would get rid of underperforming staff this year, according to Here Is City.

In January Barclays Capital, the firm's investment banking arm, announced it would layoff about 600 people. Barclays also announced 1,000 job losses in its consumer unit and that it would stop offering financial planning advice in the UK bank's retail branches as it refocuses its business towards online customers. The layoffs were scheduled to hit this month.

The bank is also in talks to sell its commercial mortgage unit, Barclays Capital Mortgage Servicing Limited, according to a report by Reuters.

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JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) has been cutting down several businesses as it revamps its strategy.

The bank has been cutting a number of trading systems and eliminating jobs to cut costs. This year JPMorgan cut its trading platforms down from ten to five, and plans to further cut those platforms down to two by 2014. Consequently, the firm is also reducing the number of people conducting trades. This year alone those number shrunk from 3,000 to 1,700, according to Here is City.

In addition, the bank is also eliminating a five person team at Highbridge Capital Management, which was managing $27 billion in assets. Even though the team had nearly flat returns in 2010, the bank's strategy the team was eliminated due to a change in "strategy," according to a report by Reuters.

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Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley ( MS) has been laying off in its hedge fund FrontPoint Partners. Reports say that 25 to 30 jobs at the fund could still be on the line.

In addition the fund, which was linked to an insider trading scandal, may also be spun off down the road, according to a report by The New York Post

Morgan Stanley has also been trimming down in other areas too such as its private bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. In January the bank announced that 60 people in the Charlotte private banking office would be relocated to Purchase, New York or laid off, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Morgan Stanley's decision to cut down the business comes after the bank failed to retain former Wachovia executive Cece Stewart, who joined Morgan Stanley to launch the private bank in late 2008. Stewart left in September to run Citigroup's U.S. consumer and commercial banking unit.

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Bank of Montreal

In the wake of its $4.1 billion merger with Bank of Montreal ( BMO), Marshall & Ilsley Corp. ( MI) is eliminating 143 positions.

Those positions eliminated range from internal support to top management employees, according to The Milwaukee Journal.

Employees were notified of the layoffs this week and will receive severance packages.

The job cuts are apparently not related to the acquisition, and are the result of a realignment of staffing, according to the bank. This likely means there will be more after the acquisition takes place in July 2011.

Cecily Mistarz, the director of BMO's integration management office will be managing the integration of M&I. There will likely be layoffs as BMO lays out how it will deal with redundancies and overlap in branches. The bank has not indicated which offices will be affected, according to reports from Crains.

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Lloyds ( LYG) has been gradually laying off employees as part of an ongoing effort to exit non-core businesses.

This month the bank announced it is shutting down its equity markets unit of its investment banking arm. The bank will lay off the 13 employees that worked in the unit. The bank said it hopes to offer redeployment opportunities to many of the employees affected, according to a report by Reuters.

Lloyds also recently announced 200 job cuts at its UK insurance arm and another 70 could also be at risk, according to Manchester Wired.

The company has laid off 26,000 employees since the financial crisis, and it was partly nationalized by the British government in 2009.

--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.

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