Caterpillar Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Home Depot Inc. led companies today announcing at least 72,500 job cuts as sales withered and construction slowed amid a global economic recession that may persist through 2009.
The biggest layoffs were at Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar. The world’s largest maker of construction equipment said it’s cutting 20,000 jobs after fourth-quarter profit fell by almost a third.
Pfizer Inc., the New York-based drugmaker that’s acquiring competitor Wyeth for $68 billion, said it will close five factories and eliminate 19,000 jobs, or 15 percent, of the combined company’s workforce.
The firings came as American jobless claims hit a 26-year high, reaching 589,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, as shrinking demand for products and services forced companies to lower costs.
Employers “are each cutting thousands of jobs. These are not just numbers on a page,” U.S. President Barack Obama said today at the White House. “We cannot afford delays” in passing the economic stimulus program now before Congress.
Sprint Nextel Corp., the U.S. wireless carrier, will eliminate 8,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, in order to reduce expenses by $1.2 billion a year.
Home Depot Inc., the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, said it will cut 7,000 jobs, or 2 percent of its workforce, and exit its Expo home-décor business.
My theory is we're seeing the worst of the job losses right now. As companies report their fourth quarter earnings they are getting these cuts out of the way to simply get it over with.
My hope is this bleeding will stop by mid-way through the second quarter.