OSHKOSH, Wis. - Bad news will greet Vice President Joe Biden when he arrives in Wisconsin Thursday night. Hours earlier, Oshkosh's largest employer announced that it will lay off 450 employees in January.
Oshkosh Corp., a truck manufacturer with Pentagon contracts, blamed the "difficult decisions" on reductions already planned for the nation's defense budget.
"As Oshkosh and others in the defense industry have discussed on numerous occasions, domestic military vehicle production volumes will decline significantly in 2013 due to the reduction in U.S. defense budgets and the fact that military spending is returning to peacetime levels," the company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, these economic factors require Oshkosh to rebalance its defense production workforce starting in January 2013."
The company said the layoffs were not tied to the additional budget cuts that could take effect in January. And it will still have about 3,500 employees in its Oshkosh-based defense division after the job cuts.
The news came hours ahead of Biden's campaign appearance in the city on Friday morning. President Obama carried Winnebago County in 2008, but area Republicans said they believe Mitt Romney will be competitive here on Election Day.
Statewide tracking polls show that while Obama's lead has slipped, he maintains a slight advantage over Romney in Wisconsin.