The number of job cuts continued to soar this week, reflecting the worsening US recession.
The nation's unemployment rate bolted to 8.1 percent in February, the highest since late 1983, as cost-cutting employers slashed 651,000 jobs.
Both figures were worse than analysts expected and the Labor Department's report shows America's workers being clobbered by a relentless wave of layoffs.
The net loss of 651,000 jobs in February came after even deeper payroll reductions in the prior two months, according to revised figures. The economy lost 681,000 jobs in December and another 655,000 in January.
Employers are shrinking their work forces at alarming clip and are turning to other ways to slash costs—including trimming workers' hours, freezing wages or cutting pay—because the recession has eaten into their sales and profits. Customers at home and abroad are cutting back as other countries cope with their own economic problems.
Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost an astounding 4.4 million jobs, more than half of which occurred in the past four months.
All told, the number of unemployed people climbed to 12.5 million. In addition, the number of people forced to work part time for "economic reasons" rose by a sharp 787,000 to 8.6 million. That's people who would like to work full time but whose hours were cut back or were unable to find full-time work.
Job losses were widespread in February.
Construction companies eliminated 104,000 jobs. Factories axed 168,000. Retailers cut nearly 40,000. Professional and business services got rid of 180,000, with 78,000 jobs lost at temporary-help agencies. Financial companies reduced payrolls by 44,000. Leisure and hospitality firms chopped 33,000 positions.
The few areas spared: education and health services, as well as government, which boosted employment last month.
Here is a rundown of corporate job cuts announced so far:
- General Dynamics said it will lay off 1,200 workersdue partly to plummeting sales of business and personal jets that forced it to cut production.
- Northrop Grumman , the Pentagon's No. 3 supplier by sales, is cutting up to 750 jobs, mainly administrative positions in Southern California, even as it plans to hire up to 850 engineers and technicians for work on advanced weapons in the area.
- Tyco Electronics announced another round of layoffs, saying it plans to eliminate 20,000 jobs by Septemberas it seeks to weather the economic downturn. The cuts amount to 20 percent of Tyco's total work force.
- Marvell Technology plans to cut 15 percent of its workforce, or 850 jobs, as the diversified chipmaker grapples with the global economic downturn.
- Adecco , the world's largest staffing company, painted a bleak outlook for 2009 and said it would slash more jobs after posting a surprise fourth-quarter loss as the economic slump bites, hitting shares.
- Warren Buffett's reduced staffing last year in half of its nearly 80 operating units, and said more job cuts were comingin an economy unlikely to recover before 2010. Many of the deepest cuts came in businesses tied closely to the housing market. Clayton Homes, a manufacturing housing unit, eliminated 2,290 jobs, or 16 percent, to end the year with 11,998 workers. Carpeting maker Shaw Industries shed 1,900 jobs, or 6.2 percent, to end with 28,974 workers.
- Home Shopping Network operator HSN cut about 250 jobs during the fourth quarter, and cancelled merit increases for 2009 to contain costs.
- ValeInco, the nickel mining and processing division of Brazil's Companhia Vale do Rio Doce , said it will eliminate about 900 full-time jobsin the face of slumping prices.
said it would shut most of its U.S. consumer lending business, cutting 6,100 jobs, but that it was ready for acquisitions in its traditional stronghold of Asia where many banks are pulling out to focus on their core markets.
—Sources: AP, Reuters, with CNBC.com staff.