Volvo FH16 truck.
© AB Volvo.

Volvo announced they will be able to retain more workers from an upcoming layoff.  In December 2015 Volvo said they would have to lay off 734 workers at their Pulaski, Va. plant.  The layoff was attributed to a projected decrease in the productions of trucks .  However, Volvo and industry analysts reexamined the economic prognosis and feel there will be enough demand to retain 134 workers.

The layoffs, which begin this month, are bad news for the New River Valley area and effect a number of communities.  The region includes the Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and the City of Radford. Over half of the workers being laid off come from the New River Valley area.

The reason for the drop in the demand for the production of new trucks is the result of a surplus of trucks available for sale. The sales for new trucks for the third quarter of 2015 was down 30% from the same quarter of 2014.

This is a marked difference from the overall performance of the industry since 2008.  There has been a steady increase in the production of trucks since 2009, when 118,000 tractor trailers were produced, to 327,000 trucks by the end of 2015.

However, industry analysts predict a drop in production to 251,000 in 2016. Production for 2017 looks slightly better with production increasing to 252,000.

Job groups in the Southwestern region of Virginia have reacted quickly to the layoffs.  A $1.9 million grant was approved by the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Consortium Board for re-training programs at local community colleges and training centers. The grant is to assist in the retraining for up to 234 workers, but it’s unknown how many of the displaced workers will seek assistance.

Re-employment experts in the region said the chances of re-employment of the workers is high.  They pointed to the increased skills the workers can get from the training and the fact the workers are already skilled workers with a steady employment history.