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Northrop plans to lay off up to 750 workers

The aerospace company is consolidating administrative staffs in Redondo Beach and El Segundo, but still has more than 850 open positions for skilled, technical jobs.

March 05, 2009|Peter Pae

Northrop Grumman Corp., the region's second-largest private employer, is planning to lay off as many as 750 workers, most of them in Southern California, as it consolidates administrative staffs in El Segundo and Redondo Beach.

The cuts would add to California's staggering unemployment roll of more than 10% and would represent about 3% of the 24,000 people who work at the two units, which were combined in January.

Despite the anticipated job losses, Northrop spokesman Dan McClain said the company's workforce in the region could actually grow this year. The combined unit alone still has more than 850 open positions for skilled, technical jobs in engineering and manufacturing that could offset cuts in administrative jobs, he said.

"We're anticipating that we will grow if we can fill all the positions," McClain said.

In January, the company said it was merging the aircraft-making Integrated Systems unit, headquartered in El Segundo, with the satellite-making Space Technology unit, based in Redondo Beach, as a way to cut costs and streamline operations.

The move, which also included combining two other units, reduced the number of company divisions from seven to five.

The company, the nation's second-largest military contractor with more than 120,000 employees worldwide, develops aircraft and builds the fuselage for the F-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jets in El Segundo. In Redondo Beach, Northrop develops satellites and spacecraft. Regionally, Northrop also has operations in Carson, Palmdale and Rancho Bernardo.

Northrop, which has its corporate headquarters in Century City, said the exact number of people who could get laid off would depend on how many voluntarily leave the company. Northrop said it would begin notifying workers in April.

Aerospace analyst Paul Nisbet of JSA Research Inc. said Northrop was "just now getting to the point of identifying the overlaps in combining the two organizations" and that the cuts were probably not related to prospects of lower Pentagon spending on weapons.

The industry, which has for several years enjoyed the biggest uptick in military spending since the Reagan administration, has been bracing for a slowdown amid the recession and a rising federal deficit.

"If they were really anticipating lower revenues, they would be chopping direct personnel that work on these defense programs," Nisbet said.

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peter.pae@latimes.com

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