Hurt by the shift to digital-music downloads and by a soft economy, Sony Corp. of America will close a high-volume CD-manufacturing plant in South Jersey that has operated for 50 years, first producing vinyl music albums for Columbia Records.

About 300 workers at the Sony DADC plant in Pitman will lose their jobs when it ceases manufacturing operations in late March, company spokeswoman Lisa Gephardt said Tuesday. A year ago, Sony stopped manufacturing DVDs at the plant, eliminating about 160 jobs.

Sony is consolidating the production of music CDs and video DVDs in a plant in Terre Haute, Ind. The Pitman plant presses CDs for multiple artists.

"In light of the current economic environment and challenges facing the physical-media industry, Sony DADC is taking additional steps to reduce cost from our supply chain network in order to remain competitive," the company said in a statement.

About 50 workers in finance, procurement, and information technology will keep their jobs in South Jersey, with Sony renting office space for them, Gephardt said.

Columbia Records opened the Pitman plant in May 1961, according to Billboard Music Week. Sony acquired the operation in 1987 when it bought Columbia Records from CBS Corp. According to the British Broadcasting Corp., the CD was jointly developed by Sony and Royal Philips Electronics and entered the consumer market in the early 1980s.

Sony has moved to cut capacity in other older technologies now being replaced by digitized information. In 2010, it cloased a Dothan, Ala., plant that manufactured data storage magnetic tapes and other products that had operated for more than 30 years.

Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez@phillynews.com.