Major companies are announcing layoffs by the thousands on a daily basis. Last Monday saw 77,000 layoffs in one day alone, and unemployment claims hit a 26 year high.
Caterpillar Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp., Home Depot Inc. and ING Groep NV led companies today announcing at least 77,000 job cuts as sales withered and construction slowed amid a global economic recession.
In the U.S., the firings brought the number of job eliminations this month to more than 150,000, according to Chicago-based executive search firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.
The firings came as American jobless claims hit a 26-year high, reaching 589,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, as shrinking demand for products and services forced companies to lower costs.
Unemployment rose in every state in the union last month.
Rising unemployment spared no state last month, and 2009 is shaping up as another miserable year for workers from coast to coast.
As a result, consumer confidence is at an all-time low. Consumer spending accounts for 2/3rds of the American economy.
Americans' mood about the economy darkened further in January, sending a widely watched barometer of consumer sentiment to a new low, a private research group said Tuesday, as people worry about their jobs and watch their retirement funds dwindle.
The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index edged down to 37.7 from a revised 38.6 in December, lower than the 39 economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected. In recent months the index has hit its lowest troughs since it began in 1967, and is hovering at less than half its level of January 2007, when it was 87.3.
46 out of 50 states are suffering from moderate to severe budget deficits, the estimate of the depth doubling in past two months alone.
Estimates vary on how deep state budget shortfalls are right now, but the latest figures from a congressional watchdog organization show states and localities will have to close $312 billion in deficits for 2009 and 2010, nearly twice the group’s previous projection in November. “The current results represent a significant deterioration,” the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a Jan. 26 update to Congress.
A plan to address the worst economy since the Great Depression comes up for a vote.
The White House-backed legislation includes an estimated $544 billion in federal spending and $275 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses.
Included is money for traditional job-creating programs such as highway construction and mass transit projects. But the measure tickets far more for unemployment benefits, health care and food stamp increases designed to aid victims of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Tens of billions of additional dollars would go to the states, which confront the prospect of deep budget cuts of their own. That money marks an attempt to ease the recession's impact on schools and law enforcement. With funding for housing weatherization and other provisions, the bill also makes a down payment on Obama's campaign promise of creating jobs that can reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The Republican answer?
The vote was 244-188, with Republicans unanimous in opposition despite Obama's pleas for bipartisan support.
They did have an alternative - more tax cuts. Or, as it was called just a short time ago, "more of the same".
A GOP alternative, comprised almost entirely of tax cuts, was defeated, 266-170, moments before the final vote.