Business
5:19 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Freightliner Cuts 1,200 Charlotte-Area Jobs

The numbers are in on Daimler Chrysler’s plan to lay off workers at its three Charlotte area Freightliner plants. The tally is 1,200 jobs.

Three Charlotte-area plants make parts and assemble Freightliner trucks.
Credit KDavidClark/Flickr

To comply with federal law, Daimler notified state and local governments this week that the company plans to lay off workers as soon as April. The state posted the numbers of expected layoffs today: 80 workers from a parts plant in Gastonia, 405 from an assembly plant in Mount Holly, and 715 from the assembly plant in Cleveland. Daimler cited “softening economic conditions” as the catalyst.

“Trucking doesn’t move unless the economy moves,” says Richard Mikes, a partner at the consulting firm Transport Capital Partners. “Obviously, the drop in GDP in the fourth quarter is not good.”

Mikes also points to a shortage of qualified drivers and new government limits on the number of hours drivers can be on the road as additional hurdles. The market research firm IBISWorld predicts the industry’s growth will slow to less than half a percentage point over the next five years.

“Currently companies in the industry are facing restricted credit conditions, high competition, really really slow growth, and not a lot of room to grow,” says Lauren Setar, an IBISWorld analyst.

But despite the layoffs Daimler struck a positive note in its statement, saying the company is “cautiously optimistic” the market will improve this year. Daimler categorized the layoffs as “temporary” in its government filings. That would fit a pattern for the Charlotte-area plants. Daimler cut thousands of jobs four years ago, only to add most of them back in 2011.