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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 9, 2008 with no responses

Dow Chemical to Cut Jobs, Close Plants

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Dow Chemical Co.'s headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

Dow Chemical Co.'s headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

Dow Chemical announced on Monday that it is planning on closing 20 plants and temporarily suspending the operations at 180 others.

They also plan to cut 5,000 jobs – 11 percent of its workforce.

“We are accelerating the implementation of these measures as the current world economy has deteriorated sharply, and we must adjust ourselves to the severity of this downturn,” Chief Executive and Chairman Andrew N. Liveris said in a statement.

Natural gas for January delivery fell 3.1 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange to settle at its lowest level since September 2007.

The company was adamant when it told its shareholders that they do not plan on cutting its dividend. “We will not break that string … not on my watch,” Liveris said in a call with investors.

Industrial production has sagged, particularly in areas such as steel and chemicals, due to the declining U.S. economy.

According to the American Chemical Council, the chemical industry accounted for 6.2 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2007. Natural gas represents one third of the industry’s energy demand.

Roughly 42 percent of the nation’s natural gas consumption comes from commercial and industrial users, while another 30 percent is used generating power.

Dow employs 46,000 people worldwide, and has annual sales of $54 billion. They operate in 160 countries, according to the company’s website.