PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., the last major mutual life insurer still based in Philadelphia, will move its headquarters to Delaware, taking 600 jobs out of the city, the company said Wednesday.

Provident will relocate by 1998 to buildings it owns in Newark, Del., and suburban Berwyn. It will begin moving some operations later this year, said spokesman Keith Bratz.

Provident has had its headquarters in Philadelphia since its founding in 1865.

Provident's move continues the trend of insurance jobs disappearing from the nation's fifth-largest city and moving to the suburbs.

Fidelity Mutual Life left its Center City offices in 1982 for Radnor. Penn Mutual moved to Horsham. Covenant Mutual, formerly the Presbyterian Ministers Fund, departed in 1991.

Last September, Provident and Covenant merged and part of that agreement was that Provident wouldn't move more than 100 jobs out of Pennsylvania in any one year. Bratz said the firm would honor that commitment.