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Apple pares manufacturing jobs

The computer maker trims a small number of jobs at a facility in California, but it's continuing to hire more staff for its new stores.

Apple Computer this week cut a small number of jobs at a manufacturing facility near Sacramento, Calif.

The computer maker did not say how many jobs were cut but said it was less than 7 percent of those who work at the Elk Grove, Calif., plant. Apple has pared staff from different divisions at various times over the past 12 months. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and other PC makers are also currently cutting jobs.

"Apple has had some minor staff reductions in the normal course of business, but our overall head count continues to grow," the company said in a statement.

In April the company trimmed a small number of jobs in sales and support. In a February filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple said it cut 375 jobs in the quarter ending Dec. 31, or around 4 percent of its permanent work force at the time, and said it planned to cut 50 more jobs. In a January earnings report, Apple said it was taking a $24 million charge to cover restructuring efforts.

As of Sept. 29, Apple and its subsidiaries worldwide had 9,603 employees and an additional 1,831 temporary employees and contractors.

But the company has added some jobs, particularly in retail. Apple has opened 31 stores in little more than a year.

By contrast, PC makers Gateway, Dell Computer and HP have all slashed thousands of jobs in the past year amid slowing growth in the PC market.

On Tuesday, Merrill Lynch cut its 2002 forecast for the PC industry, saying it now expects unit sales to inch up just 2.5 percent over last year, down from its earlier prediction of 10.5 percent growth.

Apple warned last month that sales for the just-ended quarter would fall about 10 percent short of its earlier estimate.