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Job cuts mount as year ends


AT&T, DuPont, Viacom, Credit Suisse and others take another 22,000-plus jobs out of the work force.

The nation's job market, in the final month of a brutal 2008, was dealt a savage blow Thursday when five major companies - AT&T Inc., DuPont Co., Viacom Inc., Credit Suisse Group and Avis Budget Group - announced job cuts that total 22,850.

And this is just the latest bit of bad news. On Wednesday, State Street Corp., Jefferies Group and The Carlyle Group announced job cuts totaling about 3,000.

This follows a brutal November, when U.S. employers announced plans to cut 181,671 jobs, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. ADP's monthly employment report showed that private sector payrolls fell by 250,000 jobs in November compared to the prior month.

Just in the week ended Nov. 29, 509,000 Americans filed initial jobless claims, according to the Labor Department. That was less than expected by economists, but only the fifth time since 1992 that job cuts exceeded a half-million.

The department is expected to announce Friday that the nation hemorrhaged 325,000 jobs in November, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com.

This tally will be added to the 1.2 million jobs that were already lost in the first 10 months of the year.

Nonetheless, at least one expert says the job market isn't as bad as could be, or as bad as it's likely to get.

"This is going to be a bad recession, but it's not of Biblical proportions however," said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor's.

Just in the first 11 months of the year, job losses could match or exceed the 1.5 million job losses that occurred in a 12-month span that overlapped 1990 and 1991, said Wyss. But he noted that the current unemployment rate of 6.5% pales in comparison to 1982, when the rate was nearly 11%.

"I don't think this is the 1930s, but it's certainly the worst recession we've seen since 1982," said Wyss...

Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said the job losses are likely to drag into next year. But he said it's difficult to project how long the current recession will last, and when the job market will hit bottom.

"When we see the job losses and the job picture getting worse and worse and worse, it is confirming that the recession is accelerating, that it is intensifying to the down side, but it doesn't tell us where were headed in the future, said Achuthan, who focuses on leading indicators.

"The bad news doesn't stop with the fact that we're in an intensifying recession and that it's going to continue into 2009," said Achuthan. "The risk on the horizon is that the recovery, when it does come, will be a jobless recovery."
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