A flurry of layoffs in Oregon continued Tuesday when a Salem solar wafer factory announced it will cut 50 positions.Panasonic Eco Solutions Solar America LLC announced the downsizing Tuesday. The cuts become effective April 15. This is the second downsizing at the former Sanyo Solar plant in two years. The facility shuttered its wafer slicing operation in April 2013, eliminating 52 jobs.Panasonic filed a Worker Adjustment and Retaining Notification (WARN) Act notice with state officials confirming the layoffs. The company said it was “significantly reducing its production volume due to market conditions beyond its control.” The layoffs are permanent.
The Salem plant will continue to operate with its 85 remaining employees. Panasonic spokesman Jim Reilly said the cuts are necessary because consumer demand for solar systems in Japan has decreased significantly as government subsidies have waned.The Panasonic factory makes a specialized wafer that is embedded in a kind of solar panel used heavily in Japan.The Panasonic downsizing bring the total number of layoffs in Oregon to nearly 700 just since the beginning of the new year based on WARN Act filings. And that’s likely just a subset of the total number of layoffs as only certain companies — those with 100 or more employees that are laying off more than 50 — are required to file notice of plant closings and mass layoffs.
The largest of the layoffs are coming at Evraz’ Portland steel mill, which is cutting 230 jobs.Panasonic filed notice of the layoffs with the Oregon department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, which operates certain assistance programs for laid off workers.