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Coca-Cola says it will cut thousands of workers

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Coca-Cola will eliminate thousands of jobs in the U.S. and abroad, the company said Friday. It's the latest in a series of cuts that have reduced the beverage giant's workforce by roughly 100,000 in the past eight years, bringing its headcount to about 60,000 at the start of 2020.

Coca-Cola said it was offering buyouts to 4,000 of its employees in the U.S. and Canada for the first phase of the job reductions. It said that it would soon extend a "similar" number of buyout offers to workers in its international divisions as well. 

The Atlanta-based company, in its announcement, called the buyouts "strategic" and part of a plan to pursue its "Beverage for Life strategy." The statement included no mention of the coronavirus or the recent economic downturn. The company also avoided using the word "layoffs," instead calling the job cuts "voluntary and involuntary separations."

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But Coke's operations have been hurt by the current pandemic. Half of Coca-Cola's sales come from stadiums, movie theaters and other places where people gather in large numbers. Those venues have been mostly closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue tumbled 28% in the company's most recent quarter.

"The breadth of change here reaches beyond merely a pandemic response, although one can't discount the fact that the global disruption makes this strategic reorganization more important than ever," Duane Stanford, the editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Shares of Coca-Cola Co. are down about 13% this year, though they rose on Friday to just under $49 following the news of the layoffs.

Several large companies this week have announced mass layoffs as the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus continues to drag on, and as more economists are now predicting a double dip in the current recession.

Earlier this week, American Airlines announced it would lay off 19,000 employees., the enterprise software company that will soon be added to the Dow Jones industrial average, also announced 1,000 job cuts this week. Last week, an additional 1.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, and as of mid-August, 27 million people were receiving jobless aid of any sort.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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