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ArcelorMittal warns of US layoffs

The world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal told its steelworkers union that it could eliminate 16% of its US work force, beginning in January, due to lower demand for automobiles, appliances and machinery, the Wall Street Journal said.

It would be the largest single layoff of steelworkers in the US in the current downturn, the paper said.

ArcelorMittal said that layoffs are not yet imminent but alerted the United Steelworkers that it has targeted 2,444 indefinite layoffs at its Burns Harbor steel plant just outside Gary, Indiana.

Potential work-force reductions are a direct result of the extraordinary economic environment we are facing,” spokesman William Steers told the paper.

Recently, the company announced measures including temporary output cuts of 35%, up from a previous 15%, a pause in its growth strategy, deeper cost cuts and a reduction in debt, in response to a global economic slowdown.

ArcelorMittal and United Steelworkers could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters. (Reuters)