3M Co. will eliminate several hundred U.S. jobs over the next few months as the manufacturing giant reevaluates business needs in the wake of a dismal U.S. economy, officials confirmed this week.
"It's the current market conditions in the United States and the slowing U.S. sales growth that are going to lead to the several hundred job eliminations through the company over the next several months," said spokeswoman Jackie Berry. 3M has about 75,300 global workers, of whom 34,138 are in the United States and 16,000 in Minnesota.
Workers in 3M's industrial adhesives and transportation business were recently notified that their unit will be affected. More details will be made available at the end of next week, Berry said.
3M already announced in July it will cut 300 workers from its optical business after sales for its screen-brightening films for flat panel TVs, computers and cell phones fell about 36 percent during the second quarter. The division previously shrank its workforce through attrition after international competition forced it to lower prices and reevaluate its strategy in the spring.
While industrial tapes and optical films are likely to be affected, Berry noted that all six 3M businesses are "looking at their needs and adjusting resources."
"That doesn't necessarily mean that every single business out there is going to [reduce staff] or make changes," she said. "It will be on a business-by-business basis."
3M's impending job cuts in the United States come after years of steady overseas growth as the domestic market struggled. In the second quarter, 3M's U.S. sales dipped 1.9 percent while international sales grew 1.8 percent, excluding the spate of recent acquisitions. International sales have grown about three times faster than domestic sales, a movement that has stoked 3M's development overseas while placing uncertainty in the hands of some U.S. workers.
International sales now account for about 65 percent of total 3M sales and could account for 70 percent by 2012, officials said. That compares with just 53 percent in 2001.
Along with sales, employment, capital investment and factories outside the United States also have risen. Half the company's workforce was in the United States as recently as 2001. Now it's about 44.7 percent.
During last month's earnings call with analysts, CFO Patrick Campbell said: "Economic conditions in the U.S. continue to remain challenging."
Campbell told analysts last month that U.S. business reassessments will be made strategically and should not result in large-scale changes.
3M stock closed little changed at $73.04; the price is down 13.4 percent since Jan. 1.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725