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Caterpillar To Lay Off More Workers In 3 States

By Wendy Kaufman (NPR)

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. The latest Caterpillar layoffs, totalling 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 suggests those efforts aren't enough to avoid the most recent layoffs. Those are likely to last at least six months. "These road building projects and other projects, it takes some time to get them in the pipeline," Dugan says. "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."

The U.S. economy has shed roughly 2.5 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.

"So in other words," Goldstein says,  "Instead of losing 5... 6... 700,000 workers a month across the board, maybe by June we'll be down to a loss of perhaps only 200,000.

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

LISTEN to Wendy Kaufman's report at npr.org.

This program aired on March 18, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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