The automaker could cut as much as 28 percent, in certain areas, from its 38,000 U.S. white-collar workers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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NEW YORK — General Motors, which rocked investors last week by slashing its 2005 profit outlook, plans deep cuts in nonunion employee ranks, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The automaker could cut as much as 28 percent, in certain areas, from its 38,000 U.S. white-collar workers, The Journal said, citing industry officials and analysts.

The cuts are seen as the beginning of GM’s effort to solve structural problems in its core auto business after several years of avoiding large job cuts, the newspaper reported.

GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti told The Associated Press the company planned to continue reducing its work force through early-retirement offers and “natural attrition.”

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The Journal said GM began offering buyouts to white-collar workers this month, with thousands likely to accept the packages this week.

“There are no layoffs [planned],” Simonetti said.