The impact will spread beyond the industrial Midwest to employees in states like Florida, Delaware, and Virginia.
GM announced a dozen locations where it will close facilities as part of its bankruptcy-based restructuring.
The goal of Monday's bankruptcy filing is to create a leaner "new GM" that can survive and be profitable.
But in the process, an "old GM" is disappearing, with impacts spread through the industrial Midwest and beyond.
The company had 92,000 total workers in the US last year, including hourly and salaried employees. After restructuring, the firm will have about 63,000, chief executive Fritz Henderson said Monday. The company also wants to cut the number of GM retail dealerships from more than 6,000 down to 3,600.
President Obama, who announced $30 billion in federal aid for the firm, referred to the sacrifice – and its meaning.
"Building a leaner GM will come at a cost," Mr. Obama said. But the goal of a restructured GM is that "our children can grow up in an America that still makes things."
He said his administration is working on several fronts to help communities – both those facing big layoffs and those where factories aren't as busy as normal. Obama has appointed Ed Montgomery as director of recovery for auto communities. The president also said he is accelerating the federal car purchases, to "give the industry a boost at a time when it needs one."