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Caterpillar Latest Manufacturer To Fall Victim To Low Oil Prices

The heavy equipment maker plans 10,000-plus layoffs between now and 2018, citing downturns in the mining and energy sectors.

The low price of oil has been squeezing manufacturers of durable goods in Texas for months. But the latest company to take a hit is based deep in the Rust Belt. Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar singled out weakness in the mining and energy sectors as the main reason for its decision to lay off more than 10,000 workers over the next three years.

"Every new oil and gas well location site, every drill site, to get that site built and ready, Caterpillar equipment will get used in that," says Michelle Foss, chief energy economist at the University of Texas' Bureau of Economic Geology, based in Houston. "As well, Caterpillar equipment gets used for site preparation and construction for all of the midstream businesses, meaning pipelines."

Foss notes that oil and natural gas aren't the only commodities taking a hit. Prices for iron ore and other metals, as well as coal, have fallen sharply over the past year due to weak global growth.

Caterpillar will start by cutting up to 5,000 managers and salaried workers, in part by offering early retirement. Most of those cuts will take place by year end. The company will also close or consolidate several factories between now and 2018, eliminating at least another 5,000 jobs.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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