Human Capital & Careers

This Week’s Grim Layoff Report

Looking at the long list of companies eliminating jobs, it might be simpler to report those that are not reducing head count.
Stephen TaubDecember 12, 2008

The job picture was not pretty once again this week. Things were ugliest of all at Bank of America, which late Thursday announced plans to cut up to 35,000 jobs in the next three years. The bank cited its pending merger with Merrill Lynch and the weak economic environment as reasons for the decision. The reductions will come from both companies and affect all lines of business and staff units.

The Bank of America move brings the total number of announced job cuts in the financial sector this year to 220,506, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “We probably have not seen the end of major job cuts in the financial sector,” says John Challenger, the firm’s CEO.

Earlier in the week, BlackRock Inc., the largest publicly traded U.S. asset manager, cut 500 jobs worldwide, according to Reuters. And Principal Financial dropped 550 jobs, about 3.5 percent of its workforce, Reuters reported.

The week’s job losses again affected companies in a wide range of industries.

Fairchild Semiconductor said Friday that it plans to eliminate 1,100 jobs, or about 12 percent of its workforce.

Gildan Activewear, a Canadian apparel maker, said Thursday it will phase out its U.S. sock-finishing operations by the end of June and consolidate operations in Honduras in order to remain globally competitive in the current economic conditions. However, it did not specify how many workers would lose their job. The Associated Press reported the company is eliminating 220 jobs in Fort Payne, Alabama — known as the “Sock Capital of the World” — and closing a Virginia knitting plant with 180 employees.

Office Depot said it will close about 9 percent of its North American stores and cut 2,200 jobs in the next three months.

Furniture Brands International, a retailer as well as a manufacturer of furniture, will delete 1,400 jobs, or 15 percent of its U.S. workforce.

Stanley Works, a maker of tools, said it will eliminate about 2,000 positions, or 10 percent of its employees, close three manufacturing facilities, and eliminate some layers of management.

To further underscore the cross-section of companies shrinking their payroll, Praxair Inc., the largest producer of industrial gases in the Americas, said it will cut 1,600 jobs because the recession is causing an “unprecedented” drop in demand.

Elsewhere, Tyco Electronics Ltd., the world’s largest maker of electronic connectors, said it will cut about 2,500 jobs worldwide.

Specialty chemicals maker Chemtura Corp. said it is reducing its professional and administrative staff by 500 people, or about 20 percent of the professional and administrative population, citing the change in economic conditions.

On Tuesday Navistar International, a truck and engine maker, told 250 salaried workers they will lose their job, a spokesman told Reuters.

Even government-financed entities have not been spared. National Public Radio is cutting its workforce by 7 percent, which works out to 62 of 889 staffers.

And the National Football League said it is eliminating about 14 percent of its workforce at three locations in the next two months.

Earlier in the week, chip equipment maker Novellus Systems Inc. said it will cut 10 percent of its workforce through a combination of attrition and layoffs by January 31.

Danaher Corp. said it is eliminating about 1,700 net positions and 13 facilities.

And, as report earlier in the week, Dow Chemical will cut 5,000 jobs, 3M is eliminating nearly 1,800 positions, and Anheuser-Busch-InBev is cutting 1,400 U.S. jobs.

The job losses are also dramatic overseas.

Earlier in the week, Sony said it will get rid of 8,000 jobs, or 4 percent of its global workforce. The Japanese electronics maker is hoping to cut all costs by $1.1 billion.

London-based mining and metals giant Rio Tinto said it would cut 14,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workforce.

Swedish steelmaker SSAB is cutting 1,300 jobs, or about 14 percent of its workforce.

And in Israel, Alvarion Ltd., a maker of wireless telecom equipment, said it plans to reduce 11 percent of its global workforce of about 1,000 employees.