News Column

GE Healthcare to Eliminate 2 Percent of Jobs in Wisconsin

Nov 19, 2012

Rick Barrett

GE Healthcare said Friday it is cutting 2 percent of its jobs in Wisconsin, where it has 6,500 employees, and 10 percent of its workforce in Vermont, where it employs about 500 people.

The Waukesha-based medical equipment manufacturer said it needs to make "tough decisions in the current economic climate" and was looking for ways to streamline its operations and lower costs.

"This will reduce complexity, speed up decision making and help us become more accessible to our customers," said GE spokesman Benjamin Fox.

"It also addresses the continued economic challenges in Europe and the U.S., and it will position GE Healthcare well for 2013 and beyond," he said.

Based on the 2 percent estimate, about 130 people could lose their jobs in Wisconsin -- including employees in the Milwaukee area where GE has its U.S. headquarters and product lines including computed tomography, nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging.

The company has a research park in Wauwatosa and a customer center, global service center and health care institute in Waukesha, according to the company website.

Fox would not give specifics on the job cuts but said the company was trying to minimize them by finding other positions in the company for those employees on the layoff list.

"We are hoping to find alternate roles for a lot of these folks. It's ongoing," he said.

In Vermont, The Associated Press reported that GE was laying off about 10 percent of its workforce. In January, the company employed 527 people in the Burlington area.

"The only silver lining is we have a lot of employers looking for this kind of talent," said Patricia Moulton Powden, Vermont's Deputy Commerce Secretary.

Medical reimbursements for advanced imaging services have declined in recent years, according to the Medical Imaging Technology Alliance, a Washington, D.C., trade group.

Manufacturers of scanning machines and other imaging equipment have felt the decline through slowed sales.

In the first six months of the year, GE Healthcare's revenue increased by 2 percent to $8.8 billion, the slowest growth in General Electric's industrial operations.

Source: (c)2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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