More companies announced layoffs this week as the employment picture continued to dim.
MeadWestvaco, Graco and Caterpillar were among the latest names to announce job cuts.
The number of U.S. workers drawing state unemployment benefits scaled another record high early this month, highlighting the difficulties of getting new jobs as the economy battles a severe recession, government data showed on Thursday.
However, the number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 646,000 in the week ended March 14, the Labor Department said, still at levels consistent with a distressed labor market. The prior week's number was revised up to 658,000 from 654,000.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 652,000 new claims.
Here is a rundown of corporate job cuts announced so far:
- Packaging maker MeadWestvaco said it would close two plants to cut costs, eliminating 278 hourly and salaried jobs.
- Graco says it will cut an additional 180 jobs, or 8 percent of its global work force, to reflect a drop in demand for its fluid handling systems and components. The Minneapolis-based company previously eliminated 150 jobs in December.
- Caterpillar , the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, notified an additional 2,454 workers in three states that they were losing their jobs as the company continues to try to bring production in line with plummeting demand.
- Nokia will slash 1,700 jobs globallyover the coming few months because of falling demand, the world's top cell phone maker said.
- Oil refiner Sunoco said it will cut 750 jobs, about 20 percent of its workforce, to reduce costs in the face of weak demand for gasoline and diesel fuel.
- National Semiconductor said it will cut 26 percent of its global workforce, or 1,725 jobs, as the chipmaker reported sharply lower quarterly profits and revenue.