Northrop Grumman Corp., which plans to move its headquarters to the Washington D.C. area next year, announced Monday that around 500 aerospace employees -- mostly in Los Angeles County -- will be laid off or take early retirement by the end of the year.

The Los Angeles defense contractor, which has roughly 15,000 workers in the county and 21,000 in California. Most of reductions are expected to be in El Segundo, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, home to Northrop's aerospace systems headquarters, said spokesman Jim Hart, with some out-of-state positions also being eliminated.

Employees would be given the option of taking early retirement or voluntary retirement packages before involuntary layoff notices are issued in mid-October.

Northrop said the reductions were being taken anticipation of changes in Department of Defense spending, noting that the company still expects to fill 250 California openings connected to existing contracts.

“It is a necessary step to address affordability initiatives of our customers and allow us to effectively compete in a very cost-conscious marketplace," Robert J. McNulty, sector vice president, human resources and administration for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said in a statement.

The company announced in January that it would move from Century City to the East Coast in order to be closer to its military clients. In April, it said it had found a site in Arlington, Va.

The layoffs at Northrop's South Bay facilities come on top of roughly 360 corporate jobs already expected to be relocated or eliminated.

“I'm deeply disappointed by these layoffs, which I learned of only at the last minute,” said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice, in a statement. “The departure of Northrop Grumman’s headquarters from California was concerning enough. But, Northrop’s CEO Wes Bush assured me that the move would not lead to a downsizing in the workforce. So news that Northrop will be cutting 500 employees, the ‘result of increased pressure on Department of Defense spending and the need to remain cost competitive’ perplexes me.”

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