Panasonic to cut 15,000 workers

Panasonic has announced it will cut 15,000 jobs as the global number one plasma TV maker tries to prepare for a stronger yen and decreasing demand for many of its products.

The Japanese electronics giant will close 27 manufacturing plants, with at least 14 of them overseas, and will cut 5 percent of its global workforce.  The list of companies closing outside of Japan has not been publicly released, but it’s possible that plants in the United States may be closed.

As the Japanese economy continues to slide, consumer demand for digital cameras, semiconductor chips, car navigation systems and similar electronics has greatly declined.  Although it remains the top plasma TV maker, Panasonic has had to deal with expensive material costs while also slashing prices to deal with LG and Samsung.

In the company’s fiscal third quarter, Panasonic had a $709 million net loss while the third quarter a year prior saw solid financial profit.  The company hasn’t reported an annual loss since March 2002, after restructuring and global demand declined.

Since 2002, Panasonic has done a good job of eliminating money-losing divisions and has released quality products in growing markets.

Alongside the U.S. technology and automotive industries, Japan has been forced to shed thousands of workers as the economy worsens:  Sony, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Hitachi, and other companies have cut employees.

Expect many tech companies in both the United States and Japan to struggle in the future, as they try and figure out how to deal with the lessening demand and global economy issues.