Caterpillar: 20,000

Pfizer: 19,000 (10% reduction), plus additional layoffs due to merger with Wyeth:

Sprint Nextel: 8,000

Home Depot: 7,000

Philips: 6,000 jobs


Bloomberg reports 74,000 job cuts today alone as “sales withered and construction slowed amid a global economic recession.”

Before today, at least 15 companies announced they planned to eliminate 93,000 positions so far in January, Challenger Gray said. In the U.S., the firings brought the number of job eliminations this month to at least 150,500, according to Chicago-based executive search firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Did I miss any ? Use comments to create a running total

Category: Employment, M&A

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

42 Responses to “Layoff City”

  1. E says:

    They are tracking today’s layoff tally at Calculated Risk. So far:

    Caterpillar 20,000
    Sprint 8,000
    ING 7,000
    Philips 6,000
    Corus 3,500
    Wolseley 7,500
    Home Depot 7,000
    Pfizer 13,000

  2. Concerned American says:

    There are many corporations laying off, but not announcing. It is much worst than what is being printed.

    How many are being laid off and the corporation didn’t make an announcement?

    Does anyone go back and count if it were better or worse? I didn’t think so.

    Also this says nothing about pay cuts or under employment.

  3. Mannwich says:

    On a related note, I always wondered at the end of the day if these companies actually DO lay off roughly the amounts they announce. Part of me is skeptical that these numbers actually end up being right but are mostly a PR tool to announce to the markets that they’re doing something about their plight by “trimming down” and laying off people has traditionally been a great way to goose stock price in the short term. Does anyone actually follow up to confirm that these companies actually did trim these amounts off of their headcount? After all, these companies seem to lie about everything else when it serves them, so why not this as well?

    As a former corporate HR professional (I was in recruiting), I can tell you it takes quite a bit of time to lay off these numbers of people. It cannot be done overnight and the amount of political horse trading that goes on usually only lengthens/complicates the process.

  4. larster says:


    Good point. You just do not wake up someday and decide to lay off 7,000 people. You also have difficulty in drawing up contingency plans for layoffs, as the word gets out and people quit in place until they find out if they have a job. Been there. Experienced that.

    I also wonder if they layoffs are actually a rolling exercise to acquire a less costly workforce. Today there is a big pool of people looking, so it would be simple to lay off a $80m employee and replace the function elsewhere for $60M.

  5. Mike in Nola says:

    No one is mentioning hiring freezes. Have heard that from multiple sources.

    Also pay freezes:

    And, small buisinesses don’t make the news, whether or not the perform worthwhile services:

  6. Mannwich says:

    @larster: What I’m saying is I used to see how complicated this process is first-hand and am skeptical that the actual numbers end up being accurate at all. The fact that nobody seems to verify that these layoffs actually took place anywhere near the numbers they claim tells me that many of these companies probably lie about this as well.

    The constant churn at these companies also greatly contributes to the internal chaos we see in them over time as loss of institutional memory greatly affects internal controls (these firms often fire the wrong people), accounting accuracy, etc, etc, etc. There are enormous hidden costs (as we’ve seen) to these layoffs that never get accounted for over the long term when corporate execs look at their little spreadsheet and collect their bonuses from the “cost savings”. It’s absurd.

  7. judyo says:

    Prudential Corporate, Newark, NJ last Friday. I don’t know how many but I’ve been told by an employee that this is only the first round.

  8. Mannwich says:

    @larster: One more thing – constant layoffs also greatly demoralizes the workforce and undermines productivity. In many cases, it paralyzes the workforce when it is not sufficiently explained. I’ve seen that firsthand as well. It has a tendency to “zombie-ify” the company. I’m sure that many Wall Street firms and other companies are in this state of zombie-ified confusion right now as a result. It’s highly unproductive. I worked for a Eurpopean-based firm that was like this (e.g. rumors of mergers, layoffs, changes in upper management all the time) and for a full 9 months – 1 year literally didn’t have enough to do to keep me busy for 1-2 hours a day. Thank God for the Internet, Starbucks, but one can only go to Starbucks so many times during the day. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t being laid off. I finally ended up pulling the plug myself and quitting. It felt great. Would have been better to get a severance package though.

  9. Transor Z says:

    It’s now an increasingly common practice for companies to provide spreadsheet reports on actual layoff numbers to laid-off employees and government agencies. As you might imagine, it’s largely a CYA practice to demonstrate that positions were eliminated even-handedly w/o age, gender, or other forbidden discriminatory intent/impact.

    If you caught last night’s “60 Minutes” story on DHL’s closing it’s operations in Ohio, they showed a quick clip of someone leafing through one of those reports.

  10. Mannwich says:

    @Transor Z: I caught that but the government doesn’t care if a company announces they’re laying of 20,000 but in the end only lays off 10,000. In fact, they probably prefer the latter. What I’m saying is does anyone in the market actually follow up to verify the final numbers of these layoffs? My guess is not and that’s it’s just smoke & mirrors or window-dressing for the markets. We are a window-dressing economy……..

  11. Transor Z says:

    Government isn’t the only regulating function…

    If a potential client came to me, showed me a layoff report and could also provide credible evidence that the layoff report was grossly inaccurate… [cut to Bruce the Shark from "Finding Nemo" getting a whiff of blood in his nose]

    I might even take it on contingency. :-)

  12. willid3 says:

    i suspect that while it may take a while for some of the layoffs to happen (some of the ones announced have dates in March) they probably do happen. some may get moved to other parts of the business. or not. and these layoffs aren’t just spur of the moment things so they are planned long in advance. and i don’t see lot of difference between layoffs and pay cuts. they would have the same impact to the workers. and it would seem that layoffs would be an indicator that the business doing them is in big trouble. and it is basically saying they are not expecting to grow any more, but shrink. other wise they wouldn’t need to do the layoff to begin would they?

  13. Marc1 says:

    I wonder if selective reporting makes the economic news look worse than it really is. During economic downturns it is popular to list the layoffs of large public companies. More important would be to compare the layoffs now to the layoffs during better times. Companies routinely layoff workers for restructuring, performance, etc. Some company is always laying people off.

    Second, why the focus on a few large companies? For example, the layoffs listed above are 72,000, likely to be spread over the next year or so, and if Mannwich above is correct some of this is for PR and not going to be realized. Plus, 72,000 is what percent of total workers? These layoff lists perhaps are more media sensationalism than a picture of the economy.

    Third, most jobs are at private companies; most job creation is at private companies. Where do these numbers stand?

    I’m not doubting things are bad and getting worse. But distorted reporting is for the popular press, not the Big Picture.


    BR: I do not get your point. What is it about this short post you find “distorted?”

  14. Todd says:

    It’s to help spread the fear and uncertainty so that workers will accept lower wages.

    CAT’s is big. > 10%, so some of it is rooted in reality. Anything less than 10% is nothing but window dressing to help do a short term boost in performance for Executive Bonus.

    Most of these movements at large companies are guided by the execs bonus requirements for the year. I’d bet this year Pfizer has a dual requirement. Certain dollar in acquisitions, plus a reduction in overhead to operating expenses take it on a pro-forma and they are met.

  15. Thisson says:

    I like Todd’s theory that it’s to help reduce labor costs going forward.

  16. Ramstone says:

    You’re wanting this:


  17. Mannwich says:

    Thank you Ramstone. Didn’t see that article but it makes my point. This part is especially true:

    ”The ignored parts of these announcements are that companies are hiring while they’re doing it,” said Eric Rolfe Greenberg, the director of management studies at the American Management Association, a nonprofit group in New York that holds corporate training seminars. ”Companies are increasingly hiring and firing at the same time.”

  18. leftback says:

    Corporations will use this as a great opportunity to upgrade. In this climate they can lay off underperfomers with impunity and then they can hire a few higher quality (younger, cheaper) employees at the same time. Destructive capitalism at work, again, like it or not.

  19. Mannwich says:

    True enough lb but the bad companies also often lay off the wrong people all the time. Some even lay off the wrong people and then hire them back. I’ve witnessed these absurdities in action. Of course those companies deserve to then fail but with the feds stepping in all the time now, true capitalism isn’t allowed to function correctly.

  20. Todd says:

    @Mannwich I’ve come into situations like that. Mandatory 10% cuts across board. No exceptions. Then 6 months later the light goes on “what have we done?”. The sad thing is these companies are repeat offenders. The ones making the decisions never go, so they keep repeating their mistakes. It’s why some companies are never at the top of their sector, always under perform their sector, yet always manage to stay around.

  21. Mannwich says:

    @Todd: Bingo. And this kind of thing truly kills company morale and institutional memory, which then greatly affects controls, accounting, productivity, etc. It’s this kind of short-term thinking that helps to fill executives’ pockets over the short term (which is clearly why they do it) but it usually ultimately destroys those companies in the end, however slowly it happens. I’m watching it happen with my wife’s company. Big announcement coming tomorrow on that front. We could be on the move again soon (gotta sell or rent the house though).

  22. going broke says:

    Even if the companies fudge their numbers, these 2008 numbers seem to be accelerating. Pretty steep incline on the graph.

    Dec… 7.2%
    Nov… 6.8%
    Oct… 6.6%
    Sep… 6.2%
    Aug… 6.2%
    Jul… 5.8%
    Jun… 5.6%
    May… 5.5%
    Apr… 5.0%
    Mar… 5.1%
    Feb… 4.8%
    Jan… 4.9%

  23. bytehead says:

    My wife got laid off four years ago. In her severance package, they broke down everybody that was getting laid off. No personal data, but you could see what sex, age, length of employment and salary was getting laid off. And yes we found her line.

  24. Mannwich says:

    @bytehead: If you’re in a “protected class” (e.g. minority, or male over 40 years old), I think they have to list that data to protect themselves from being sued for discrimination.

  25. DP says:

    Not that it changes the overall picture, but Wolseley isn’t new – they’ve laid off 7500 over the past 5 months as part of previously announced cost cutting measures.

  26. AGG says:

    IBM cut 1400 under the radar last week. This could be grist for the new SEC.

  27. AGG says:

    I read this great comment on a BM job cut comments web site. It says it all:
    Comment 1/25/09: All IBMers in the world are very very sorry about the way Sam is handling things, mainly in the USA. Of course we are not happy to notice that the american IBMers are been treated merely as costs that must be cut in order to increase profitability and satisfy the shareholders. Hey, we all know you work hard! We all know you have families! We all know you don’t deserve PBC 3! We have always been in the same boat to make this company bigger. You have always been our daily colleagues and we all knew we depended on each other. If you think we feel our jobs are safe in the BRIC countries just because we are “cheaper” than you, you are completely wrong! We don’t want to have our jobs based on exchange rates, which is the way they are managing the big blow. We don’t want to have our departments transferred to an african location tomorrow, for example, just because they are cheaper than us… If all CEOs start following this example, companies will move their activities to the “cheapiest country of the day” and governments will make an effort to have a worst exchange rate! This is obviously a ridiculous trend! At a employee stand point, with activities been transitioned frequently to other geos, there will no be long-term jobs and consequently people will not feel safe to get married, have children or buy a house… Well, the message to all IBMers is:
    1) They don’t care about you and it does not matter where you work: they care about money.
    2) They don’t care about how long you helped the company and how experienced you are: they hit you as soon as they think you can be replaced with lower costs.
    3) There is no IBM values and there is no special ingredient:it is all about profit per share.
    4) Maybe it is new stage of capitalism…Maybe we are entering a new age of humanity… Maybe the USA is not going to be the 21st century empire… Whatever! We cannot beat the power of money if we continue to think individually. Congratulations for the site. God bless you. –

  28. mark mchugh says:

    This is a couple weeks old now, but Circuit City represents 30,000+ once these final sales are done.

  29. Thisson says:

    @AGG it’s sad as hell, because it’s true. Companies only care about the $.

    I wish it was easier to educate people on this; as long as we depend upon a salary from our corporate masters, we’re vulnerable. The only way to escape is to join the ownership society, at any cost. And the only way an average person can do that is by living well below their income, which isn’t much fun.

  30. franklin411 says:

    Thisson, it’s kind of hard to join the “ownership society” when our wages have actually gone down over the last 8 years and we’re the first generation to do *worse* than our parents did.

  31. AGG says:

    ” The only way to escape is to join the ownership society, at any cost. And the only way an average person can do that is by living well below their income, which isn’t much fun. ”

    You are right. I made that decision several years ago. After a while, you realize that the hot shot beer bashes or bar scenes and spendy lifestyle restaurant meetings is really a lot of empty posturing. Real life with neighbors and house and yard duties combined with vigilant internet interactivity is cheap and it helps our country. Yeah, I’d like to take a cruise every now and then but it’s just not that important to me any more.

  32. dps says:

    The sad part in all this is that all these unemployed workers are soon to be part of a political game. “We need deeper tax cuts so that the investor class will be encouraged to hire more” or the soon to be heard “unemployment benefits to the lazy is a redistribution of wealth and leads to socialism” or the oft quoted by the self-righteous ” I worked two jobs and mowed lawns (dug ditches?) on the weekends – I would never take a handout – I’ve got my pride”. My favorite is blaming everything on welfare moms. A close second is blaming the McDonald workers for conning the poor MBA bankers into $500,000 loans, thus ruining the economy.

  33. AGG says:

    What you say has merit. You have been cheated. The big items like health care need to be socialized so we all have one less large expense to deal with. This is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the USA.
    Next, we need an attitude shift in city and county zoning restrictions. This hollywood approach that dominates zoning now is pleasing to architects but unrealistic for hard times. If a guy wants to repair stuff in his garage, let him. If someone wants to surround there house with tomato plants, let him. The bottom line should be healthy frugality. Nobody wants suburbs full of pigs and chickens but plant life should be left to the homeowner. We need to get involved with the town select boards and erase a lot of zoning crap that is there simply to be applied when they want to make life hard for somebody like the old blue laws. What happen if I want a vertical axis wind mill 45 feet tall in an R-1 area?

  34. AGG says:

    I don’t have the link but Buzzflash has an article on 25 asswholes (individuals) at the center of the meltdown. If you want to know why our wages were kept down, there is a good place to start. They kept us salivating about how great it is for Bill Gates to make more money because that is so great for the rest of us. HUH? I’ve got news: When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet make more, it’s because you and I are making less!

  35. going broke says:

    I’d like to add to the list, 6 layoffs from just one region from the company I work for that wasn’t in any newsprint.

    OT: AGG @ 3:34pm, agree wholeheartedly.

    Also, we need to start enforcing (or change) our laws, particularly the CEO’s (Cheif Embezzlement Officers) and CFO’s (Corporate Fraud Officers) of the larger company’s that deliberately steal from the shareholders. How can someone get 10 years for writing a $300 stolen check while these bastards steal millions, billions, get out on bond and don’t serve time, or very little time. They’ve ruined many, many lives! Guess that gets us back to the money circle, doesn’t it.

  36. Mike in Nola says:

    Microsoft wants more H1B workers while laying people off? Gotta like Grassley:

  37. dunnage says:

    Well, I don’t know why a lot of these companies don’t simply do what congress, pundits and the public wanted GM to do. You know.

    1. Go Bankrupt — hell, nowadays they can just roll along while
    2. Dumping Pensions — damn workers lived too long and
    3. Canceling Labor Contracts — what is the minimum wage for any way, use it.
    $. Coming out Party = Big Bonus time for you know who.

    Damn now, that’s capitalism.

    Now what kind of unemployment are we talking about? Ivy Liberals like Krugman understand there is unemployment, and there is something called “excessive unemployment”. Men like Krugman understand that employment is a living thing — they are just like MDs — having killed employment many times, they have discovered a “natural” rate. Because men like Krugman only kill employment for the workers own good — everybody knows the poor do just terrible during inflation – they are liberals.

    So what is the difference: Regular old fashioned fascist unemployment is controlled so nobody notices.I forgot about the unemployed — probably either overpaid and need to be displaced by cheap labor or simply drug addicts. And Excessive Unemployment: oh woe is us, occurs without divine guidance . You check with MIT, U of Chicago, or Harvard and they will tell you it just has to stop. Lets put our heads together, give ourselves some money and whine about the endowment.

    The thrill — solitary, solidarity ( sorry ) — when there is no reason to talk to your boss, the high command, head man, VP fast track cause the odds are 50/50 he/she won’t be in tomorrow. Do not fear these times. Moments like this are to be treasured .

  38. Whammer says:

    AGG, I disagree with you a little about Gates, and other entrepreneur types. To me, it is just fine that entrepreneurs can make a bunch of money — after all, they make their money by enriching all their shareholders.

    What really chaps me is the CEOs of long-standing public companies getting huge $$. Is there anyone in the world who could not run Exxon? I mean that seriously — what exactly does the CEO of Exxon or any big oil company do that merits them making hundreds of millions of dollars? The biggest thing that those people can do is not actively screw things up.

    Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca, and a few others helped start this cult of the CEO. How many CEOs, who are not founders of their companies, really truly deserve to make dynasty-class money in what are essentially caretaker roles?

    Not many, I’d argue.