Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar cuts employee count by a further 2,454 positions

Caterpillar Inc, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, notified an additional 2,454 workers in three states on Tuesday that they were losing their jobs as the company continues to try to bring production in line with plummeting demand.

Caterpillar has seen its sales wither as the sluggish world economy and credit crises weaken demand for its products used to build everything from houses to highways. The company had expanded dramatically in recent years, helped by a building boom in developing countries.

In this latest round of layoffs, Caterpillar said 2,365 support and management workers had been laid off for at least six months and 89 workers had been let go permanently. Some 245 of the 2,365 layoffs had been announced previously.

The bulk of the job cuts - nearly 1,600 in all - will come in Illinois at the company's plants in East Peoria, which makes track-type tractors and pipe layers, and Aurora, where it makes hydraulic excavators and wheel loaders. The company also said it is closing a fuel systems factory in Jefferson, Georgia, and moving production to two other Caterpillar plants. It is also cutting jobs in Indiana.

In January, Caterpillar announced 22,000 layoffs and in February, the company offered voluntary early retirement packages to another 2,000 production workers. (See: Caterpillar offers voluntary retirement to 2,000 employees after firing 22,100 last month)