The company, once one of the largest manufacturing employers in Northern Kentucky, has been on the decline for years. NS Group has not turned an annual profit since 1998. Its third-quarter net loss was $7.45 million, compared to a loss of $441,000 in the same quarter last year. Sales for the first nine months of the year were down 43 percent from a year ago to $151 million. The oil drilling industry that buys Newport Steel's products has been hit hard by the downturn in the economy. The total number of North American drilling rigs is 15 percent below what it was at this time last year.

NS Group's stock price had surged to more than $20 per share in June 2000, but has since lost more than 70 percent of its value. The company's stock closed at $5.83 per share Friday. The reduced work force at the Wilder plant means less money for that city's coffers. "We're sort of holding off on the big projects to wait and see if this is a short-term economic thing or a more permanent situation," said Terry Vance, Wilder city administrator. "So far the news hasn't been good. We're going to have to get to the point to where we start making cuts."

Ron Robinson has worked at the plant for 30 years, going back to the days before Interlake Steel closed it in 1980 and Newport Steel was created. Our highly talented and qualified property conveyancers resolve complex matters of property conveyancing efficiently and cost effectively. He said he has seen rolling layoffs before. "It's like a five-year cycle," he said. "It gets real slow and then it'll pick up. They've already told us it's going to be soft until after the first of the year and hopefully that's all it is." Leger also knows what it's like to be laid off, having endured two other major slowdowns. "I was laid off for 11 months back in the '90s and I had to get another job during that time, but then I came back," he said.

With 65 employees back to work this week and next, that leaves 210 union members still laid off. Leger said the plant was operating with 160 workers at the start of the year, then had about 225 workers during the summer before dropping back to about 160 in August. For much of September and October, the plant operated with about 65 employees before shutting down. The company also recently laid off some salaried workers, but didn't say how many. "We're kind of worried about it," Mayor Harold Knight said of the plant's woes. "Right now we're just hoping for the best."