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Jobs in the telecommunications industry took a new hit as Alcatel announced it will lay off 1,100 employees in its US operations, most of them in full-time positions. The Paris-based company warned last month that it was exploring cost-cutting options because its cellphone division likely would report a first-quarter loss. Earlier layoffs in the sector have been announced by rivals Nortel, Lucent, Motorola, Ericsson, and Nokia.

Orders placed with US factories fell in February for the second straight month, led by a drop in demand for industrial machinery, computers, cars, airplanes, and ships, the Commerce Department reported. The 0.4 percent dip left orders at a seasonally adjusted $363 billion, the lowest level since October 1999. The economic slowdown has hit the manufacturing sector hardest, causing companies to sharply cut production, trim jobs, and reduce work hours to handle slowing demand. A report Monday by the National Association of Purchasing Management showed manufacturing activity fell in March for the eighth month in a row. But the decline was at a slower rate than in January and February, which economists found encouraging.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor


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