ERIE, Pa. — GE Transportation is attributing layoffs of salaried workers in western Pennsylvania to a decline in the locomotive and mining businesses.

The Erie Times-News reports ( the energy company confirmed Thursday it plans to lay off an unspecified number of salaried workers at its Erie and Grove City plants. GE eliminated 1,500 hourly positions in 2015.

The company says North America is facing a challenging cycle for freight rail and mining markets. GE Transportation says the decision to layoff salaried workers was difficult but necessary for long-term competitiveness.

GE Transportation spokeswoman Deia Campanelli says salaried employees are eligible for 30-day paid notice and outplacement services.

In March, General Electric announced it would cut $2 billion in expenses from its industrial businesses over the next two years.

Information from: Erie Times-News,