EAST PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Caterpillar Inc. Chief Executive Jim Owens says the heavy equipment maker will probably have to lay off more employees before it starts thinking about rehiring.
Speaking after a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama in a Caterpillar factory, Owens said Thursday that even if a stimulus plan passes immediately, it won't have an effect on the economy until late this year or early 2010.
That seemed to back away from the immediacy of a statement Obama made minutes earlier.
The president said Owens told him if the stimulus passes, he'll rehire some of the more than 20,000 workers the manufacturer plans to lay off.
On Wednesday, Caterpillar said it is offering voluntary early-retirement packages to about 2,000 production workers, in Illinois, Colorado, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.