2009-02-12 / Front Page

170 More Jobs Vanish At JLG Industries

Layoffs total 1,670 since July
By Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

The booms of JLG telehandlers dot the skyline at the McConnellsburg plant Tuesday morning. Slumping sales have forced the company to trim its workforce by 37 percent and scale back production. The booms of JLG telehandlers dot the skyline at the McConnellsburg plant Tuesday morning. Slumping sales have forced the company to trim its workforce by 37 percent and scale back production. JLG Industries continued paring its workforce on Friday, laying off 170 more production workers employed at the company's North American manufacturing facilities.

The latest downsizing came a little more than two weeks after the world's leading manufacturer of access equipment said 100 nonproduction employees had lost their jobs, and after imposing weeklong unpaid leaves for white-collar workers remaining on the company's North American payrolls. Company officials said then they hoped the unpaid leaves would minimize future workforce reductions.

Friday's round of layoffs brings the total number of jobs lost at JLG since it first began downsizing in July 2008 to 1,670, or 37 percent of its 4,500 employees around the globe, according to Kirsten Skyba, vice president of global marketing.

Skyba said Monday that JLG is continually assessing the marketplace and making adjustments to adapt to the crumbling demand for products here and abroad while working hard to maintain the company's longterm viability.

"Things can change quickly," Skyba said. "We try to assess daily where our customers are and what we can do in the short term."

JLG is hopeful that once the massive economic stimulus bill being hammered out in Congress is finalized and sent to President Obama for his signature, the money set aside in the bill for infrastructure improvement and school construction will help to to get production at JLG back on track.

"That would definitely be a bright spot," said Skyba.

President Obama told the nation Monday evening during his first prime-time press conference that 90 percent of the jobs created by the plan would be in the private sector, rebuilding roads, bridges and other aging infrastructure.

Skyba said that although JLG continues to develop new products, product design has been scaled back. Military contracts for telehandlers have not been affected by the economic crisis and remain relatively stable. However, only a small percentage of JLG employees work on military contracts, she said.

A not so bright spot for JLG was parent company Oshkosh Corp.'s fiscal 2009 first-quarter earnings report posted Jan. 29. It showed a loss of $20.6 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $37.3 million in the same quarter last year.

The earnings report also said Oshkosh's access equipment division, JLG, had seen a 40 per- cent decline overall in sales over the previous year. JLG's European sales fell by 51 percent, the report said, and North American sales declined 45 percent compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2008.

Friday's layoff at JLG was announced the same day the Labor Department said that 598,000 jobs were lost in January. Umemployment figures for the nation now number more than 3.6 million workers, including 1.1 million in manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economists say that as the country continues to fall deeper into recession, the unemployment rate, which is now at 7.6 percent, will rise to double digits. Fulton County's December 2008 employment rate, the most recent, is already in double digits at 10.5 percent.

"It's difficult situation (reducing labor costs)," Skyba said, "because people are affected personally."

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