The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to 516,000, the highest level since the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.
The figure outstripped forecasts, with analysts polled by Reuters expecting initial claims to be only 484,000. The claims were last at this high a level in the week ended Sept. 29, 2001, when they were 517,000.
"This is unremitting bad news. It will continue to be a major issue," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, noting that there were large auto layoffs in Michigan and Ohio. "This suggests another real bad number for November payrolls after what we saw in October."
The US unemployment rate hit a 14-year high of 6.5 percent last month and many forecasters expect it to soar to 8 percent or more next year as the economy suffers what could be a deep and long recession.
A department official said there were no special factors contributing to the spike in claims, but noted that jobless claims often rise as the year winds down.
Here's a rundown of some of the recently announced job cuts: (source: Reuters, with CNBC staff):
Citigroup is cutting as many as 35,000 jobs in its investment bank and other divisions throughout the world, and CEO Vikram Pandit instructed budgets for employee compensation by at least 25 percent.
- Sun Microsystems plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs, or 18 percent of its global work force, as sales of high-end servers have collapsed.
- BT Group , the UK telecommunications firm, will cut 10,000 jobs, or 6.3% of its global work force, inthe first quarter of 2009.
- Applied Materials, the semiconductor-and-solar panel equipment maker, is slashing 1,800 jobs, the company annonnced after reporting four-quarter profits fell 45% on weak sales due to declining corporate technology spending.
- Circuit City , which is filing for bankruptcy, is laying off about 17 percent of its domestic work force, which could affect up to 7,300 people.
- Deutsche Post , German mail and logistics company Deutsche Post will cut 9,500 jobs at its DHL unit in the U.S. and eliminate U.S.-only domestic express shipping.The new round of cuts, which will see the shedding of 7,000 in a single town, Wilmington, Ohio (pop. 12,00) that has been the hub of DHL's five-year effort to take on US rivals UPS and FedEx on their home turf, are on top of another 5,400 job cuts it already announced.
- Nortel Networks plans to lay off 1,300 workers, nearly 5 percent of its workforce.
- Motorola posted a third-quarter net loss and revenue fell a steeper-than-expected 15 percent, as a result the telecom equipment maker will slash 3,000 jobs in a cost-cutting effort.
- Ford said it would cut 2,260 white-collar workers in North America.
- General Motors , which previously said it would reduce salaried employment costs by 20 percent, will also cut another 1,900 salaried jobs on top of the 5,100 announced last summer. GM also said it is reducing some employee benefits, including 401 k contributions and other programs.
- Fidelity Investments will start laying off about 2.9 percent of its global workforce later this month—affecting 1,288 workers in the first round from a workforce of 44,4000—and plans to trim more workers early next year.
- Toy maker Mattel Inc. says it is cutting some 1,000 positions worldwide in response to the ongoing economic downturn. The El Segundo-based company says the positions amount to 3 percent of the company's worldwide workforce and will reduce its professional and management staff by 8 percent. Cuts will come from a combination of layoffs, attrition and retirements, the company said.
- Goldman Sachs notified roughly 3,200 employees this week that they have been laid off, part of previously reported plans to slash 10 percent of the firm's global work force. The move comes after laying off hundreds of support staff and junior bankers in June. The company had a record 32,569 employees in August and the latest cuts reduce headcount to the lowest since 2006.
- At Merrill Lynch, 10,000 employees could be jettisoned as a result of the merger with Bank of America.
- Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets said in June it expected to eliminate about 7,500 jobs over the next two years after the completion of its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest U.S. mortgage lender.
- Barclay's plans to cut about 3,000 jobs as it brings Lehman Brothers into its fold. Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy last month, had 26,000 employees. About 10,000 have been given jobs until at least the end of the year.
- The lack of merger and acquisitions and initial public offerings is hitting Morgan Stanley hard. The U.S. investment bank said on July 31 it was finished cutting jobs, having slashed 4,800 jobs in the past year but some analysts expect Morgan could lay off 15 percent of its work force.
- Even the more stable JPMorgan Chase is looking at cutting at least 10 percent and maybe 15 percent of its workforce. It has over 180,000 employees globally, including 25,000 in investment banking.
- Wachovia, said in August it would cut 6,950 jobs, 600 more than it had previously disclosed.
UBS said at the beginning of October it would cut another 2,000 jobs at its troubled investment bank. The job losses come on top of 7,000 jobs already cut, about 4,100 of which were in investment banking positions cut in the past year. The bank will have reduced its headcount by more than 10 percent to under 80,000.
- Credit Suisse has axed more than 1,500 jobs, the majority in investment banking in the last year since 2007, and on Tuesday it said it would cut 500 more jobs.
- HSBC said late last month it was cutting 1,100 jobs in its investment banking operation, or 4 percent of the workforce.
Commerzbank announced its plan to cut 9,000 jobs in the wake of its agreement to purchase Dresdner Bank from Allianz . About 2,500 jobs of the 9,000 cuts will be outside Germany.
UniCredit, Europe's fourth-largest bank said in June it would shed 9,000 posts out of 100,000 in Germany, Austria and its domestic base Italy.
First American, the largest U.S. title insurer, by reported revenue said last month it cut 1,250 jobs in the third quarter, bringing the total for the year to about 2,950, or 8 percent of its workforce. It has cut roughly 6,500 jobs since the first quarter of 2007.
- National City Corp said last week it planned to reduce 4,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, over three years to save $500 million to $600 million annually by 2011.
- Computer maker Dell, which is nearing the end of nearly 9,000 job cuts, has asked employees to consider taking up to five days of unpaid vacation, is offering voluntary severance packages and has instituted a global hiring freeze.
- Nissan announced layoffs affecting 2,500 salaried jobs overseas and 1,000 temporary posts in Japan amid plans to cut vehicle productions globally.
- Privately held Chrysler said it was cutting about 5,000 salaried employees. Earlier in the week, it said was slashing 1,825 jobs as the result of plant closings.
- Money manager Janus Capital said it would cut 9 percent of its staff a day after rival AllianceBernstein said it would make unprecedented job cuts.
- Xerox announced job cuts of 5 percent, or 3,000 positions, due to a "tough business environment."
- Hewlett-Packard is laying off more than 24,00 employees due to weak technology spending and the integration of tech-services giant Electronic Data Systems, which H-P acquired earlier this year for $13.25 billion.
- Mining equipment maker Terex said it would lay off hundreds of workers and suspend its share buyback program to preserve cash.
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide said it plans to cut an unspecified number of jobs to offset slowing travel demand.
- American Century says is plans to cut 270 jobs this week, reducing workforce by 17 percent. They insist that no portfolio managers are to be affected by the impending job cuts.
- Merck announced plans on Wednesday to cut 12 percent of its workforce, citing a need to change its business model in order to survive.
- Fidelity National Financial , which controls one of the largest U.S. title insurers, announced 1,000 job cuts, office closings, a 10 percent pay cut and a 50 percent dividend cut, which comes on top of 1,600 job eliminations in the April-to-June period.
- Biotechnology company Maxygen plans to cut nearly 30 percent of its workforce and explore strategic options due to the current financial environment
- Popular Inc. , parent of Banco Popular, is cutting 600 positions and more than a quarter of its branches in the United States.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said United Parcel Service sees layoffs in 2009 as customers need less shipping due to cutbacks on holiday gift purchases. The company said they are not projecting layoffs.