U.S. employers make significant job cuts

On Monday, some of the largest and most stable companies in the U.S. announced plans to cut more than 55,000 jobs. Twenty-two of the 30 companies that are part of the Dow Jones industrial average have cut jobs since October 2008.

Companies that slashed jobs Monday included construction equipment maker Caterpillar, cutting 20,000 jobs after holding steady in 2008, as well as health care giant Pfizer, cutting 8,000 jobs. Currently, 4.6 million people are receiving unemployment insurance benefits—the highest level since 1982.

"These are not just numbers on a page," President Barack Obama said Monday as he urged Congress to pass his economic-stimulus package. "These are working men and women whose lives have been disrupted. We owe it to each of them and to every single American to act with a sense of urgency and common purpose."

Other major companies announced job cuts Monday. Sprint Nextel cut 8,000 jobs; Home Depot cut 7,000; General Motors cut 2,000; and Texas Instruments cut 3,400. Jobs are being slashed across the economy, signaling that even financially strong businesses are preparing for worse.

Caterpillar has seen slower sales because of slowing economies in once-booming countries such as China. Sprint Nextel has been affected by slower wireless subscriber growth and a drop in consumer spending. Pfizer has experienced more regulation and competition from cheaper generic drugs.

Large, well-known companies are not the only ones being hit. In December 2008, companies with one to 49 employees cut 281,000 jobs; companies with 50 to 499 employees cut 321,000; and companies with more than 499 employees cut 91,000.

Many economists believe a stimulus package would help boost the economy during the second half of 2009, but they also see continuing layoffs during the next six months.

Date : 1/28/2009