Rough Road

Manufacturers hit hard by slumping economy.

Several truck and equipment manufacturers are cutting jobs in the face of a worsening economy — in most cases shedding jobs and trimming salaries.

Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar, a manufacturer of engines and heavy landfill equipment, announced that it will eliminate 20,000 jobs or 18 percent of its workforce. Those cuts include company, contract and agency personnel, and as many as 5,000 support and management employees.

The company also announced cost cutting measures in response to continued deterioration of market conditions and on-going uncertainty in credit and financial markets. The measures include compensation reductions for executives, management and support staff; suspensions of merit-based pay increases; and a hiring freeze.

"We understand these decisions will disrupt the lives of many of our employees and their families, and we regret the need to take these steps," said Jim Owens, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, in a press release.

In July, truck maker Navistar International, Warrenville, Ill., will close its Indianapolis engine plant and Casting Corp. foundry, cutting nearly 700 jobs. One of the main reasons for the closings is the end of the company's diesel engine supply agreement with Ford Motor Co. "This is a difficult decision because of the impact it has on our employees and the community where we live and work," said Eric Tech, vice president and general manager, Navistar Engine Group, in a press release. "But the significant change in Ford's business plans has forced us to make this decision."

Volvo Trucks North America, Greensboro, N.C., announced permanent layoffs of 650 hourly workers at its plant in Dublin, Va. "We've had to reduce production capacity in alignment with public demand," says Jim McNamara, a spokesperson for the company.