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Despite record earnings, defense firms laid off nearly 1,500 over the past year

Workers at Force Protection Industries Inc., make Cougar H 4 X 4 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at the factory in Ladson, S.C., Jan. 18, 2008. (Cherie A. Thurlby/Department of Defense)

Despite high defense spending and stock prices, U.S. defense firms laid off more than 1,400 workers over the past year. On Sunday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX joined the list, announcing plans to cut 577 employees at its Hawthorne, California, headquarters amid a lighter rocket launch schedule in 2019. That’s about 10 percent of the firm’s 6,000 employees.

Layoffs commonly occur when companies have government contracts that end or when companies undergo mergers and acquisitions. Here’s some of the major defense companies that laid people off in the past year.

Lockheed Martin announced in August 2018 that it would lay off about 500 employees at a Sikorsky helicopter plant near Jupiter, Florida, in 2018.

BAE Systems announced it would lay off 155 employees when it closed a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, in 2018.

Raytheon announced it would lay off 52 employees in Orlando, Florida, at the end of 2018 after losing an Army training contract.

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GDIT laid off 101 employees in Chester, Virginia, in August 2018

L3 Technologies cut 62 positions in Waco, Texas, in October 2018, to reduce costs, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Northrop Grumman laid off 138 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2018 after losing a Missile Defense Agency contract that it had held since 1995, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. Northrop also laid off 348 employees in Chester, Virginia, in June 2018 after losing an IT contract with the state of Virginia to competitor SAIC.

The U.S. arm of Italian defense firm Leonardo in November announced phased layoffs of about 90 people at an Elizabeth City, North Carolina, facility where it maintains U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft.

Going back a bit further: In June 2017, Boeing Defense, Space & Security announced 50 defense executives would be cut as a major reorganization of the firm’s defense business. Boeing is expected to create hundreds of jobs following its $9.2 billion contract with the Air Force new pilot training jets in October.

Overall, these cuts are small compared to some historical cuts. Eight days after 9/11, for example, Boeing announced layoffs of up to 30,000 people.

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@ 2018 By National Journal Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.