In the past several weeks, announcements of job cuts came from Mattel , Time Warner , Glaxo , Merck , Xerox and Yahoo , to name a few.
Thousands more are being cut by the auto industry and those losses are expected to rise. Ford , in reporting a third quarter loss Friday, said it would layoff another 10 percent, and General Motors , bleeding cash at a dangerous rate, said it too was cutting more workers.
Corporate America is now following the lead of Wall Street, where in the last year tens of thousands have lost jobs, many of which will never return.
The question, though, is this: As the layoffs add up, how bad will unemployment be in this recession? And what does that mean in terms of when and how the economy will recover? It really is a different job market this time, and that might be a slight positive for workers, economists say.
For one, there was no big ramp-up of new employees ahead of this economic downturn. But there are plenty of other factors that make this job environment more worrisome.
One of those issues is the fact that there's no turnaround in sight for housing, which can only aggravate job losses.
"You have a very broad-based decline in payrolls. The only good thing is that businesses did not seem to have aggressively hired during the boom. It never got to the point where there was hiring in advance or panic hiring," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
That contrasts to the period prior to the dot-com bust, when companies were luring workers to Internet companies with signing bonuses.
"The other unique feature of this is how broad-based these job cuts are. In other times, they were focused in a region or two," he said.
Zandi said about 30 states are in recession, and more are close. (Click here to state budget-busted states).
"It's a much broader downturn than has been the case historically. That's an issue to how these economies can adjust to all of these shocks," he said.
Typically, people have picked up and moved to another part of the country when times have gotten tough.
Not this time, Zandi said.
"There's really no place to go. The only big economy that's doing well is Texas. Of course, the fact that so many homeowners are underwater cuts down mobility," he said.
He said the phenomena could prolong the recession. So far, more than a million jobs have been lost since the beginning of the year.
"It feels like, given the announcements, given the collapse of business confidence, we're not halfway done. At least 1.5 million to 2 million jobs will be cut in total," he said.
He expects unemployment to peak at 8 percent by the end of 2009 or early 2010.
Auto Problems Loom
The auto industry's jobs losses have already amounted to about 100,000 in the last three years and could accelerate.