Although Caterpillar Inc. announced it may be able to recall employees if the economic stimulus package passed, it probably won’t happen until late 2009 or early 2010.
“We’ll probably have to make more layoffs before we start hiring again,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Owens in a press conference after President Barack Obama visited Peoria Feb. 12. “We don’t want false expectations. If we sign a stimulus bill, that doesn’t mean we’ll be hiring right away.”
CAT spokesman Jim Dugan said the company hasn’t announced further plans to bring back employees who have been laid off since Obama signed the stimulus package Feb. 17.
However, the company released a statement after the package passed in the Senate Feb. 13.
“If these packages are enacted quickly, they could stimulate demand for our products that would likely, over time, provide Caterpillar the opportunity to recall employees who have been laid off during this downturn,” Owens said. “We know this won’t happen overnight, but I am confident that swift passage of the stimulus will lay the important groundwork to rebuild our workforce.”
The stimulus package is designed to create 3.5 million jobs, many of which will be in construction. Theoretically, many of these jobs will require CAT equipment, which is why the company may be able to recall employees.
Owens also said he thinks the need for more CAT equipment will make the country more competitive globally, because so much of the equipment is exported.
“As a bellwether company for the global economy, we are experiencing the unprecedented depth of this still unfolding global recession, and we believe strongly a fiscal infrastructure investment will create construction jobs in the near term, and enhance the competitive position of the U.S. in the global economy,” he said.
Obama cited CAT as one of the main reasons the $800 billion stimulus package needed to pass.
“What’s happening at [Caterpillar] tells us a larger story about what’s happening with our nation’s economy, because is many ways you can measure America’s bottom line by looking at Caterpillar’s bottom line,” he said.
CAT has laid off more than 22,000 employees this year.
It announced its largest lay-off, of 20,000 employees, the same day it announced 2008 had been its highest-grossing year, making $51.3 billion.
The company has not said when it will further announce recall details.