Human Capital & Careers

Jobs: Body Count Piles Up

Leading the way this week is Motorola, which slashes its work force by thousands for the second time in as many quarters.
Stephen TaubJanuary 16, 2009

It remains to be seen to what extent companies making layoffs now will go for another round later this year. But Motorola, for one, this week announced steep cuts for a second straight quarter.

Motorola announced it will eliminate 4,000 positions, including 3,000 associated with its mobile devices business. These are on top of the 3,000 cuts the company made in the last quarter of 2008. Altogether there were 6,700 employee departers at the company last year, according to Reuters.

The company said it expects the new job reductions, plus other cost initiatives, are expected to save $700 million in 2009.

Other companies announced sizable cuts for the first time.

Citing the ongoing economic downturn, WellPoint Inc. said it will eliminate 1,500 positions, including 900 open ones. The 600 who are losing jobs will receive severance and outplacement assistance.

The company expects to take a $24 million after-tax charge in the fourth quarter related to these actions.

“With the current state of the economy we made the difficult decision to adjust the size of our workforce as we continue to meet our members’ needs while appropriately controlling operating expenses,” said Angela Braly, president and CEO.

MeadWestvaco Corp. said it will eliminate 2,000 positions, or 10 percent of its global workforce, by year-end as part of a larger company-wide restructuring and downsizing. About 800 of the reductions are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

“We have been taking aggressive steps over the past several months to help ensure we perform in today’s uncertain environment, and are poised to take advantage of the stronger, more stable periods that are sure to come,” said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and CEO.

Disk-maker Seagate Technology said it will reduce its worldwide headcount by about 2,950 people, representing about 6 percent of its global employee headcount. This includes the previously disclosed 10 percent reduction of the U.S. workforce.

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson, meanwhile, told reporters at a media briefing in Tokyo that the company expects about 2,000 staff to take early retirement, according to Reuters.

Airplane maker Cessna Aircraft Co. plans to lay off 2,000 employees, according to the Associated Press, citing an e-mail to workers on Monday. The job cuts will affect all facilities and pay categories, according to the report.

Cummins Inc. said it will reduce its permanent professional workforce worldwide by at least 800 by the end of February and freeze salaries for the year. The engine maker said it will offer a second voluntary retirement package to some U.S. employees, with the rest of the reductions to come from involuntary terminations worldwide.

The company also will reduce the salaries of its officers by 10 percent for 2009.

Autodesk Inc. plans to pare its global workforce by about 750, or 10 percent, as part of a larger restructuring plan to reduce its annual operating expenses. The company anticipates the restructuring will bring pre-tax cost savings of about $130 million annually starting in fiscal 2010.

Reebok has eliminated about 310 jobs, according to the AP.

Google Inc. is cutting 100 recruiters from its work force.

Chip-testing equipment maker FormFactor Inc. said it will reduce its workforce by 22 percent as part of a global reorganization and cost reduction plan.

Financial services firm Marshall & Ilsley Corp. said it is cutting 830 jobs, or 8 percent of its total. The company said 80 percent of the cuts had already been made.

Commercial printer Quad/Graphics said it will eliminate 550 jobs in five states, or 5.6 percent of its domestic workforce.

Even a group of Midwestern AAA clubs said it will lay off 200 workers and close 34 branch offices in seven states, noting that customers are increasingly using the web and telephone services instead of visiting physical offices, according to the Associated Press.

Other companies that announced layoffs this week include Charming Shoppes Inc., Barnes & Noble, and clothing retailer Sierra Trading Post.

4 Powerful Communication Strategies for Your Next Board Meeting