Hundreds To Lose Jobs At Linthicum Defense Contractor

Thursday, March 03, 2011 – Steve Fermier and Baltimore Sun
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. said Wednesday that it will cut 500 jobs at a Linthicum-based division, blaming a drop in business caused by “delays and uncertainty” in both domestic and international contracts.

Most of the cuts to the company’s Electronic Systems sector would hit Baltimore-area locations, with the rest spread among facilities in Illinois, Virginia, Connecticut, Florida and Alabama. Northrop Grumman is offering a buyout to employees but will conduct layoffs by the end of May if too few leave voluntarily, said spokesman Jack Martin Jr.

“This workforce reduction action is regrettable, but unavoidable,” Martin said by email. “It is imperative that the company balance the workforce to the business base that supports it to ensure the sector’s continued competitiveness.”

The Electronic Systems sector employs about 8,300 in the Baltimore region, primarily in Linthicum with smaller outposts in Annapolis, Sykesville and Elkridge. Close to 150 workers were laid off from the Anne Arundel County locations last June, Martin said.

Federal contractors benefited from the run-up in spending that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and 2008 financial crisis. Now the pinch is on as the government tries to rein in the deficit —a problem for Maryland, which overflows with contractors.

The Republican-led House of Representatives wants to cut $61 billion from the federal budget this fiscal year. Even before, though, contractors could see reductions were on the way. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pledged last summer to reduce spending on “service support” contracts by 10 percent a year over three years.

Contracting has “been a buffer up to this point,” but that’s changing, said Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, a Republican.

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