Ford Motor Credit plans to cut about 1,000 jobs, or 20% of its U.S. workforce by the end of this year, the lending and financing arm at Ford said this week.

Company spokesperson Margaret Mellott said the company hopes to achieve some of the reductions by not replacing employees who retire or voluntarily leave the company. But most of the reduction will come in the form of job cuts that will occur by March 31.

Mellott said seven of Ford Motor Credit’s 10 business centers across the U.S. will be affected by the job cuts, while the company’s Dearborn headquarters will largely be spared. She said the job cuts are needed because of a mix of record low industry sales and Ford’s decision to sell several brands.

Ford’s U.S. sales dropped 15.3% last year as industry sales declined 21.2%. Ford Credit reported net income of $1.3 billion in 2009, compared with a net loss of $1.5 billion a year earlie

Ford Credit provides consumer loans to car buyers as well as inventory loans to auto dealers.

The cuts follow a similar move last year, when Ford Credit laid off 1,200 employees, or 20% of its workforce at the time.

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