Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley may be announcing job cuts that total between 1,500 to 1,880 positions, or about 3 percent to 4 percent of the investment bank's work force, according to reports. Morgan Stanley had no comment.
The number of people receiving unemployment benefits has reached an all-time record this week and more layoffs are spreading throughout the economy.
The Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of Americans continuing to claim unemployment insurance for the week ending Jan. 17 was a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million, the highest on records dating back to 1967. That's an increase of 159,000 from the previous week and worse than economists' expectations of 4.65 million.
As a proportion of the work force, the tally of unemployment benefit recipients is the highest since August 1983, a department analyst said.
The record number of ongoing benefit claims is an indication that laid-off workers are having a difficult time finding new jobs, economists said.
"This highlights the key point that the trend in gross hirings has slowed as abruptly as the trend in gross firings ... has risen," Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note.
A year ago, continuing claims stood at about 2.7 million, less than half their current level when the extended unemployment program is included.
Abiel Reinhart, an economic analyst at JPMorgan Chase, said the report indicatesthe unemployment rate likely rose this month. January's figure will be released Feb. 6.
The crush of new and continuing claims has overwhelmed many states' ability to process them all. Electronic filing systems crashed in three states earlier this month, and last week Michigan said it would hire 276 workers and open a fourth call center to handle increased phone traffic.
President Barack Obama's $819 billion economic stimulus package, approved by the House Wednesday and now on its way to the Senate, would provide $500 million to the states to upgrade their unemployment insurance systems. The measure also continues the extended unemployment compensation program, which adds up to 33 weeks of benefits, until the end of the year.
Here is a rundown of corporate job cuts announced so far this year:
- The 7,000 job cuts at Macy's account for 4 percent of the company's work force. In additioni to the job cuts, the retailer said it is cutting the 401(k) contribution it provides to existing employees. Also hurting Macy's shares was a dividend cut, to 5 cents per share from 13.5 cents.
- Morgan Stanley plans to cut about 3 to 4 percent of its work force, or up to 1,880 people, as it battles with spiraling costs and slowing business, according to people familiar with the matter. This wave of layoffs comes in addition to 7,000 layoffs the firm announced in 2008.
- Caterpillar said it was laying off an additional 2,110 workers as the company scrambles to cope with a downturn in demand for its construction and mining equipment.