PORTLAND, OR – Truck manufacturer Freightliner has announced plans to lay off more than 2,100 employees at three plants in North Carolina because of sagging sales.

Daimler Trucks North America, the parent company of Freightliner, told employees Thursday the layoffs will affect plants in Gastonia and Mount Holly in Gaston County and Cleveland in Rowan County. The cuts are will take effect March 13.

Nearly 1,300 employees at the Freightliner plant in Cleveland will be laid off about three quarters of it's workforce leaving about 700 jobs.

The Mount Holly facility will cut 600 workers and almost completely shut down. Company officials said it will perform limited component assembly work after March 13.

About 275 workers will lost their jobs at a parts plant in Gastonia. Freightliner already had cut more than 550 jobs at the plant in October.

Daimler Trucks Chief Executive Chris Patterson said the cuts were hard to avoid amid the economic downturn.

Freightliner is a major employer in the region, which has seen plant slowdowns in the past.