Some people saw it coming. Others were blindsided by a pink slip. The recent wave of job cuts this week added more people to the growing ranks of the nation’s unemployed. A CNNMoney article today puts the week’s total to more than 100,000 so far. Below is a quick review of some of the bigger names.
On Monday alone, it was announced that Caterpillar will axe 20,000 jobs, General Motors plans 2000, Sprint Nextel plans 8000, Home Depot plans 7000, and Pfizer said 8000 jobs will go in its announcement of its purchase of Wyeth. Throughout the week, other companies announced layoffs: AOL will lose 700 employees, Starbucks will lose 6700, Ford will lose 1200, and Boeing plans 5500 cuts. Last week, Microsoft said it will shed 5000 jobs, Intel will cut 6000, United Airlines will cut 1000 more jobs-adding to the 1500 cut in late 2008.
In addition to layoffs, companies are quickly implementing other cost-cutting measures like hiring freezes, wage freezes, store closures, suspending 401(k) matching plans, offering early retirement, and temporary shut-downs of manufacturing plants in the case of GM and Ford.
Pharma had its share of job-cutting announcements this week. AstraZeneca today announced it will reduce its workforce by an additional 6000 positions by 2013, bringing the total to 15,000 jobs. It did not specify where those cuts will be. Sepracor announced a workforce reduction of 530 positions, or approximately 20% of its staff. The biotechnology company Isotechnika announced plans for a staff reduction, but no details. Intercytex Group, also a biotechnology company, said it will lose half of its 76 employees. Basilea Pharmaceutica said will add about 100 positions worldwide in order to focus on what it calls “high priority programs,” but will cut 30 research jobs related to lower priority projects.
In recent weeks, other companies have announced plans to refocus resources on only the most promising candidates, suspending development on other pipeline products for when the financial picture looks better. These announcements often include staff reductions in R&D. The notion that pharma is “recession-proof” is fading away.
Big Pharma is not only fighting the bad economy but is also preparing for upcoming patent expirations and possibly tighter marketing regulations for direct-to-consumer advertising. Smaller companies are looking for ways to save cash and stay afloat. Mergers and strategic deals can be solutions, but that also means duplication of staff positions and duties, resulting in job cuts.
Economic recovery will take some time, and many predict things will get worse before they get better. In the meantime, good luck out there.