Caterpillar To Lay Off More Workers In 3 States

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Caterpillar plans to lay off an additional 2,400 employees at five plants in Illinois, Indiana and Georgia. The world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment has seen its sales wither as the sluggish world economy and credit crisis weaken demand for its products. In January, the company announced it was laying off more than 20,000 workers.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And at Caterpillar there are more layoffs. It's the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. In January, the company announced its layoffs would total about 20,000. The number continues to climb from there. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN: The latest Caterpillar layoffs totaling about 2,500 provide a vivid picture of just how hard and how fast the world economy has fallen. Last year the company had sales of more than $51 billion worldwide. This year the figure could be as low as 36 billion. The federal stimulus efforts could provide a boost, but Caterpillar's Jim Dugan suggest those efforts aren't enough to avoid the most recent layoffs. Those are likely to last at least six months.

Ms. JIM DUGAN (Caterpillar): These road building projects and other projects, it takes some time to get them in pipeline. The bids go out, hopefully some of our customers will win those bids, hopefully they'll look at what the project is and what their equipment fleet looks like and they may need to make an incremental order or two, and that would be beneficial certainly to us. But it doesn't happen overnight.

KAUFMAN: The U.S. economy has shed roughly two and half million jobs in the past four months. And economist Ken Goldstein of the Conference Board says if everything goes well in the stimulus package and the banking sector, we may begin to see the number of layoffs slow by the middle of the year.

Mr. KEN GOLDSTEIN (Economist): So in other words, instead of losing five, six, seven hundred thousand workers a month across the board, maybe by June we'll be down to a loss of perhaps only 200,000.

KAUFMAN: Adding it might take until the end of the year before we get back to zero in terms of overall job losses in the U.S. economy.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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