(The Center Square) – More than 8,000 workers in North Carolina have been laid off this year, according to data from the Department of Commerce.
International Paper is the latest company to let workers go, about 200 or one-third of its operation in Riegelwood at the Brunswick and Bladen county line.
The International Paper layoffs follow others in recent weeks across several industries, including about 250 workers at a Tyson Foods chicken plant in Wilkesboro, 800 employees laid off from the Millennium Print group in Morrisville, 258 laid off from Gidlan Yarns in Salisbury, 51 laid off from Coats American in Kings Mountain, and several reductions at tech companies in the Triangle.
Workers in the furniture industry have been among those hit the hardest.
In August, the North Carolina furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams closed permanently facilities in Taylorsville, Hiddenite, and Statesville, laying off 533 workers, while the Ashboro-based Klaussner Furniture shuttered the same month, laying off 884.
The reasons for the cuts range from a lack of customer demand, to troubles securing financing, to oversupplies driven by demand during the pandemic that has since waned.
Workforce Adjustment and Retraining Notification reports from the North Carolina Department of Commerce for this year through Oct. 18 show a total of 91 notices across the state resulting in the layoffs or impending loss of 8,122 jobs.
Among the largest are 1,050 jobs lost at the Pactiv Evergreen Canton Paper Mill in Haywood County in March, 885 jobs lost with the trucking company Yellow Corporation across eight counties in July, 337 positions eliminated by Ardagh Glass in Wilson County in July, 265 jobs lost at Transdev Services in Wake County in April, and 246 jobs cut at the UNC Health Care System in Wake County in September.
In total, the notices so far in 2023 impact workers in 26 counties. To date, the largest job loss numbers have been in Haywood, Randolph, Mecklenburg, Wake, and Randolph counties.
All of the layoffs detailed in 91 notices for 2023 involve permanent layoffs, while 26 involve permanent business closures.
International Paper, supplier of 20% of the U.S. paper supply and the largest employer in Columbus County, said the 200 workers will be let go by the end of December.
The layoffs stem from the closure of one of the company’s two pulp machines in Riegelwood, which produces about 2,000 tons of fluff pulp and softwood pulp each day. The jobs lost equate to about 31% of the 650 workers employed at the facility and is part of a broader staffing reduction that will impact a total of about 900 workers in Pensacola, Florida, and Orange, Texas.
“Decisions like these are extremely difficult, because of the impact on our employees, their families and the communities in which we operate,” International Paper CEO Mark Sutton said in a statement. “We are grateful to our employees in Orange, Riegelwood and Pensacola for their significant contributions to the company over the years.”