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Home Depot, Pfizer, and Caterpillar

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted January 27, 2009




Here is the latest on the jobs front where numerous companies announced their intentions to hand out pink slips yesterday.

They included: Pfizer, Caterpillar, and Home Depot.

From the AP by Jeannine Aversa entitled: Job-killing recession racks up more layoff victims. 

“The recession is killing jobs at an alarming pace, with tens of thousands of new layoffs announced Monday by some of the biggest names in American business — Pfizer, Caterpillar and Home Depot.

More pink slips, pay freezes and other hits are expected to slam workers in the months ahead as companies desperately look for ways to survive.

“We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg — the big firms,” said Rebecca Braeu, economist at John Hancock Financial Services. “There’s certainly other firms beneath them that will lay off workers as quickly or even quicker.”

Looking ahead, economists predicted a net loss of at least 2 million jobs — possibly more — this year even if President Barack Obama’s $825 billion package of increased government spending and tax cuts is enacted. Last year, the economy lost a net 2.6 million jobs, the most since 1945, though the labor force has grown significantly since then.

The unemployment rate, now at a 16-year high of 7.2 percent, could hit 10 percent or higher later this year or early next year, under some analysts’ projections.

The mounting toll was visible Monday as thousands more workers got the grim news.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., which is buying rival drugmaker Wyeth in a $68 billion deal, and Sprint Nextel Corp., the country’s third-largest wireless provider, said they each will slash 8,000 jobs.

Home Depot Inc., the biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., will get rid of 7,000 jobs, and General Motors Corp. said it will cut 2,000 jobs at plants in Michigan and Ohio because of slow sales.

In response to deteriorating business conditions, Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of mining and construction equipment, disclosed nearly 20,000 job cuts, most of which already have been made. They include 5,000 new layoffs of white collar workers, which will occur globally by the end of March.

Earlier actions included the elimination of 2,500 workers through a buyout offer announced in December, the termination of about 8,000 contract and temp agency workers, and the reduction of 4,000 full-time factory workers through firings and buyouts.

Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. said will eliminate jobs in markets particularly hard hit by the recession, though it didn’t provide details. Its larger rival Schlumberger Ltd. said last week that it will cut up to 5,000 jobs worldwide in the first half of 2009 and consider further reductions this spring.

And Brooks Automation Inc. on Monday said it plans to get rid of 350 jobs, or 20 percent of its work force. It will be the second round of cuts for Brooks, which makes software and equipment for chip manufacturers.

The flurry of layoffs comes on the heels of similar action by big-name companies just last week.

Microsoft Corp. said it will slash up to 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months. Intel Corp. said it will cut up to 6,000 manufacturing jobs. And United Airlines parent UAL Corp. said it would get rid of 1,000 jobs, on top of 1,500 axed late last year.

And there’s no end in sight. In a survey by the National Association for Business Economics, 39 percent of forecasters predicted job reductions through attrition or “significant” layoffs over the next six months, up from 32 percent in the previous survey in October. Around 45 percent in the current survey anticipated no change in hiring plans. About 17 percent thought hiring would increase.”

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