Le Sueur foundry 1/29

The layoffs of 112 workers at Le Sueur’s largest employer will impact the city, though the blow will be softened because only 26 reside in the community.

The recent layoff of 20 percent of the workforce at Le Sueur’s largest employer is just symptomatic of the nation’s economic woes, residents and businesspeople say.

“It’s the widespread issue to deal with in 2009,” Le Sueur druggist Ron Grothe said. “I feel bad for those employees.”

Last week Le Sueur Inc. manufacturing plant, citing declining sales, laid off an unprecedented 112 of the privately held company’s 575 employees.

“There were layoffs before, but nothing like this,” said retiree Cliff Johnson, who worked 27 years in the plant office.

The layoff’s impact on Le Sueur is softened by the fact that only 26 of the 112 displaced workers live in the city of 4,300 residents.

“But it affects the whole area, so it’s bound to hurt. No question,” Johnson said.

Le Sueur Inc. is a supplier of products including aluminum die castings and plastic injected molded parts.

The layoffs have generated empathy, if not a lot of conversational fodder in town.

“There really has not been that much talk about it. The economy overall is affecting everybody,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Boyland, sounding a common refrain.

Said Le Sueur hardware store proprietor Carol Ward of potential layoff impacts on local businesses, “Wait a month and we’ll know.”

According to December Minnesota Department of Employment figures, Le Sueur County’s unemployment rate of 10.1 percent was the highest in the nine-county Mankato area.

Other area jobless rates ranged from 5.1 percent in Blue Earth County to 7.9 percent in Faribault and Sibley counties.

The statewide average was 6.8 percent.

But despite the general economic malaise, Boyland said Le Sueur retailers were buoyed of late by the outcome of a citywide promotion featuring across-the-board discounts.

“I’m hearing from the businesses that they did really, really well,” she said.

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