BNSF Railway has furloughed about 4,600 employees nationwide in the past several months as a result of falling energy prices, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

The furloughs amount to about 10 percent of the company's workforce, BNSF executive chairman Matthew Rose told the Montana Energy conference in Billings on Thursday.

The Fort Worth-based company also has stopped hiring and is offering buyouts to its older employees, Rose said.

This marks the greatest reduction in its workforce since the beginning of the Great Recession starting in 2008, Rose said.

BNSF is not disclosing how many employees have been laid off or where they have been laid off, its spokesman Mike Trevino said.

The numbers of laid off employees have been reported by news organizations in recent months.

But BNSF's furloughs are underscored by growing layoffs in the energy sector, including Thursday's announcements by Peabody Energy cutting 235 employees at its North Antelope Rochelle Mine south of Gillette and Arch Coal cutting 230 employees at its Black Thunder Mine near Wright.

BNSF is part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Nebraska.

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