Local telephone company BellSouth Corp. said on Friday it would cut 1,200 more jobs, or less than 2 percent of its work force, in the 2002 first quarter due to the economic slowdown and the resulting drop-off in demand. 

The Atlanta-based company said it had alerted the Communications Workers of America union that the jobs, all non-management positions, will be cut in its network operations throughout its nine-state region. BellSouth said it will offer a voluntary separation package to affected employees. 

``Our business is not immune to the larger economic forces in the market,'' Rod Odom, executive vice president for BellSouth Network Services, said in a statement. ``The reductions we are announcing are tied to an economy that has slowed significantly over the course of the past year and to a resulting drop-off in the volume of demand work we have been experiencing.'' 

In October BellSouth said it would cut 3,000 jobs, most of them in management and in the Atlanta area. To date, it has identified about 2,000 of the positions to be eliminated. 

The company said it hopes to achieve most of the cuts through voluntary action, but will handle any remaining cuts according to its contracts with the union.