40/29 reports, quoting unnamed sources, that the Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith, once a giant payroll, will close in 2012. It’s been losing workers for years. Where 4,600 were once employed, the payroll more recently has been near 1,100.

UPDATE: The City Wire in Fort Smith notes that reduced production and now closure of the Whirlpool plant also will mean the loss of several hundred more jobs at related industries, such as parts suppliers.

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UPDATE II: It’s official. Some 1,000 jobs gone by mid-2012. Remaining production going to Mexico and other U.S. plants.