NEW YORK -- Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (IW 500/29) said today it will lay off 600 US workers in its missions systems and training business, in a move not linked to the government shutdown.
"This action is necessary to address continuing challenges in our business environment, including continued uncertain program funding, delays in contract awards and an extremely competitive market," the company said. "While the government shutdown did impact our business, this action is independent from that event."
The defense and aerospace giant had put about 2,400 employees on leave without pay after a bitterly divided Congress failed to fund the 2014 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, forcing a partial federal government shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of civil servants and hit Pentagon contractors particularly hard.
Lockheed said it was "pleased" that Congress and the White House had reached an 11th-hour agreement late Wednesday to fund the government through Jan. 15, ending the 16-day shutdown.
"We expect all U.S. government facilities to open, stop-work orders to be lifted, and for our operations to return to normal as soon as our customers are all back in place and have informed us that we may resume many critical programs that were halted during the shutdown," the Bethesda, Md.-based company said on its website. "While we welcome today's news, we urge Congress and the administration to focus on long-term solutions to confront the difficult fiscal issues facing our country."
The Washington deal also extended the nation's debt ceiling through Feb. 7, staving off a potentially catastrophic default that could damage the U.S. and global economies. The U.S. Treasury had warned that it would run out of borrowing room by today if the $17.6 trillion limit were not lifted.
But both the spending and debt ceiling provisions last only until early next year, leaving the prospect of further uncertainty over fiscal policy amid political wrangling between President Barack Obama's Democrats and rival Republicans.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013