Employers That Cut The Most Jobs Since The Financial Crisis

These 10 employers have cut nearly a half million jobs in the last five years.

Woman carrying box of stationery
On Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, and the financial crisis was officially underway. Fast-forward five years, and the economy is still down a net total of 240,000 jobs from where it was five years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But during the worst of the recession back in 2010, the economy was behind a net total of 8.8 million jobs. Regular cuts, as many workers know all too well, have hit nearly every sector of the economy -- and many sectors are still struggling.

Many jobs have returned, but not enough. "In reality, we've actually made very few improvements to the labor market," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the liberal and non-profit Washington D.C.-based research organization, the Economic Policy Institute. "You also have to consider all the jobs we should have been adding over these past five years, instead of trying to recoup the jobs that have been lost."

But which employers laid off the most workers? To mark the five-year anniversary, AOL Jobs contacted employment services firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which checked its database. The result: a list of the top 10 job-losing employers -- and a window into not only how brutal the crisis has been but who has suffered the most. These workplaces are responsible for 475,918 of the jobs that have been lost since 2008. Four of the ten employers who have cut the most jobs are in the finance industry.

A caveat about the list: The Challenger firm focused on combined totals from announced workforce reductions, which of course is automatically going to put the spotlight on larger employers. See below for the top ten.

U.S. Postal Service Logo10. U.S. Postal Service

Major layoffs: 2009
Total jobs lost: 30,000
2013 total workers: 522,000*

Why so many? The financial crisis has of course overlapped with the digital revolution, which has taken a much-publicized toll on the U.S. Postal Service. And the first full year of the financial crisis saw workers hurt beyond those who were simply cut; nearly a quarter of the Postal Service's 646,000 workers were offered early retirement, as CNN reported.

Verizon Logo9. Verizon Wireless

Major layoffs: 2009, 2012
Total jobs lost: 30,700
2013 total workers: 195,400*

Why so many? Verizon's cuts in 2009 were more related to its buyout of wireless service provider Alltel in 2009. But last year, Verizon made more even more cuts after 45,000 Verizon employees went on strike after the company pushed for cuts in health benefits and pensions when contracts with two major unions expired. The cuts came in the company's traditional wireless division, as CNN Money reported.

Petco Logo8. Merrill Lynch

Major layoffs: 2008
Total jobs lost: 35,000
2013 total workers: 284,000 (Bank of America)*

Why so many? Before the company was taken over by Bank of America at the end of 2008, it pursued a punishing round of layoffs. In one fell swoop, 15 percent of its workforce, or some 30,000 bankers, were let go from the investment bank and brokerage divisions at the firm.

Petco Logo7. JPMorgan Chase

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009, 2013
Total jobs lost: 35,000
2013 total workers: 260,095*

Why so many? When the crisis struck in 2008, leading mortgage lender Washington Mutual was in near collapse. JPMorgan Chase moved in and bought most of the company, but cut much of the staff, including nearly 10,000 in December of 2008. Company CEO Jamie Dimon is however often credited for making moves that have minimized job losses. Back in 2006, for instance, he began tracking how many phone lines his bank owned, and found some 50,000 were being unused, as Marketwatch reported. As a result, the company was able to cut down on the wasteful expense.

Petco Logo6. Bank of America

Major layoffs: 2011, 2012
Total jobs lost: 37,402
2013 total workers: 284,000*

Why so many? Before the financial crisis, Bank of America (BofA) was recognized for going on an "acquisition binge," in the words of Marketplace.org. And in trying to figure out what to cut ever since the crisis hit, BofA has been focused on scaling back its mortgage lending divisions, much of which it inherited when it took over Countrywide, once the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, in 2008. Like many of its peer banks, BofA has also cut jobs to implement a "vast new regulatory system that cuts into profits," as the Wall Street Journal reported.

Petco Logo5. Caterpillar

Major layoffs: 2009, 2013
Total jobs lost: 40,111
2013 total workers: 125,341*

Why so many? The world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment took a direct hit when those sectors suffered in the financial crisis. Cuts were made to ensure that costs were in line with revenue. And more bloodletting may ensue; this spring, the company said it expects a 50 percent decline in sales of traditional mining equipment, as the Chicago Tribune reported.

Petco Logo4. Circuit City

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009
Total jobs lost: 41,305
2013 total workers: none

Why so many? Pressure from competitors including Best Buy and Walmart proved too much for Circuit City as it closed its 567 stores back in 2009. But during its final gasps, the company tried to stay afloat by replacing thousands of its highest paid clerks with lower-paid replacements. The tech community was not impressed; "Let's face it, customer service in Circuit City is far from stellar, and ditching highly qualified personnel does nothing to improve that situation," Gizmodo wrote after a 2008 purge.

Petco Logo3. Hewlett-Packard

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
Total jobs lost: 74,300
2013 total workers: 331,800*

Why so many? The world's largest tech company embarked on a vigorous cost-cutting mission as soon as Mark Hurd took over as company CEO in 2005; he laid off 15,200 employees, or 10 percent of the workforce in his first year, as CNN Money reported. So when the crisis began, the company only revved up its strategy of cuts, telling thousands of workers they were "redundant" as the company transitioned away focusing on hardware production and towards tech outsourcing. But the moves have been seen in the tech community as undoing the company's identity as a service provider. Indeed, HP is planning to cut 27,000 IT professionals by the end of 2014, according to CIO.

Petco Logo2. Citigroup

Major layoffs: 2008, 2011, 2012
Total jobs lost: 75,000
2013 total workers: 267,150*

Why so many? Citigroup took $20 billion in bailout money from the federal government in 2008 through the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP). But it wasn't enough as CEO Vikram Pandit also began laying off workers that year. The cuts have come across Citi's divisions, from combined insurance to investment banking. And hardly anyone expects the cuts to stop. After Michael Corbat took over from Pandit last year as company CEO, he promised the bank would reduce "excess capacity and expenses, whether they center on technology, real estate or simplifying our operations," as USA Today reported.

GM Logo1. General Motors

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009
Total jobs lost: 77,100
2013 total workers: 202,000*

Why so many? When credit vanished after the market collapse of 2008, GM, along with the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler all found themselves with major cash shortages on their hands. The problems in the sector were also compounded by the rising price of fuel earlier in the decade, which encouraged consumers to buy fuel efficient vehicles made overseas, as the Associated Press reported. It got so bad that GM was on the verge of complete liquidation by April, 2009, before the government stepped in to provide the famous $85 billion bailout. But the instability resulted in mass layoffs which included the elimination of thousands of management jobs in addition to plant positions.

*The total number of employees was provided by Glassdoor and the companies themselves.

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Still not counting the U6 numbers for unemployment.

September 22 2013 at 12:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Didn't mention the Auto Dealerships that Unions stole. Jobs lost there. http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/blog/post/2012/09/05/how-obama-crushed-thousands-of-auto-dealerships

September 21 2013 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anon Ymouse

Where's the list of companies that outsourced the most jobs? All were heavy tax writeoffs for the costs of doing so?
I imagine IBM would be on the list !!!

September 16 2013 at 4:06 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Happy shoping

"Employee” is an antiquated term. Business treats people as "Human resources" that can be cut at a moments notice regardless of the ability to perform the job at hand which is to service customers. Did I write, "service"?

If you press this and click that an automated "person replacement" will attempt to have a brain and give you satisfactory answers. If you haven’t tossed your phone at the wall you will eventually hear. "I will transfer you now" followed by a dial tone or a person with an accent and an intelligence that is anything but "service.

What to do? Be an entrepreneur, a business owner. The only one that can fire you is YOU! If you think it is hard, I was 12 years old when I started my first business followed by two more businesses all offering the same thing. I offered a value another person would pay money for. I offered it cheerfully and with integrity. Customers were stunned that they did not get cheated or abused. They enjoyed getting there value from me. How many time do you interface with a merchant and are happy and eager to continue to deal with that merchant and recommend that merchant to a friend.

If you were a businessperson what will you offer. If you were a customer what do you want? You want relationships with a business that will be knowledgeable and pleasant and honest. That business will give you value for the value you give. You will be trusted and your customers will be wary at first but with time they will know you are the "real deal" and will tell their friends.

Give service and insist your employees do the same cheerfully and with integrity. No one likes to be cheated or abused. If you are out of work you can hire yourself. You do not have to be a "human resource". I mentor people for free at Mayoaid@aol.com if you have a question

September 16 2013 at 3:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Given that in 2000 Lucent Technologies had more than 157,000 employees, that by the close of the 2005 fiscal year, prior to the 2006 merger with Alcatel, there were a mere 32,000 remaining. That is an 81% reduction in only 5 years... not failing to mention that layoffs continued in the intervening 11 months prior to the merger. At 2005 year end, the Alcatel tally itself numbered 58,000. Adding the 32,000 Lucent names equals a combined Alcatel-Lucent "Day 1" workforce of 88,000 in December 2006. Today, almost exactly 7 years later, there are reportedly only 72,000 remaining, which equates to additional loss of 16,000 jobs, 18% of the combined workforce. Layoffs will continue given they seek another billion (yes B-I-L-L-I-O-N) in savings by 2015. It's easy to forecast another 5-10% (3,000 to 7,500 heads) HR reduction.

September 16 2013 at 1:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Chase is the worst, all tax payers should pull their money out of this devil bank.

September 16 2013 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JIM ISHOO's comment

Totally agree, my dear Mom did before she passed. I closed my Chase Credit Card 3 years ago. What I don't understand is why in the world lots of people are still banking with these guys.

September 16 2013 at 2:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Should I ask the question why thout of the eleven large companies that cut the largest number of empoyees. 5 are all in the finance and Banking buisness and 6 ere bailed out by the tax payer. and four are still ripping off customers every day. Or is that a really stupid question to ask since the Tea Party House Republicans with there cohorts in the Senate are all working to make Obama a one term President and are not smart enugh to undrstand that if they shut down the goverment that about 95% percent of the voting public are going to put them out of a job. And really out of their chosen carreers for the rest of their lives. I guss not now that I think of it. It is a stupid question!

September 16 2013 at 12:44 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Largest number of layoffs from Guvment Motors. Now they want to run our healthcare. Moochelle will probably end up being the nations dietician for all hospitals, everyone will die from starvation. .

September 16 2013 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to coltangels's comment

I think you need to put the bottle of Hoch down and go back to sleep Senator Mcconnel

September 16 2013 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cindy P

The corporate entities of America have still not learned that people equal the bottom line, and probably never will. There are three poisons loose and they are wreaking havoc... greed, anger, and stupidity. I wish every graduate of a business school and every corporate executive would read "The Pillars of Prosperity." The word recovery actually means "something goes back to it's pre-existing condition." Those who lost their jobs will never get them back. Those who lost their homes will never get them back. We need better ethics in business. The job market in my state is beginning to open, but the really good jobs are few and far between. Oh, to have W. Edwards Deming here and now! I would be very leery about signing on with any of the 10 companies on this list. Not loyal once, I'd be twice shy. At this stage of the game, there's only one direction to go... UP! It'd so easy to blame the man in the chair at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He inherited a plateful... sadly, enough problems to surpass his time in office. The people want their dream restored. Human beings are incredibly resilient. Given a chance, people can accomplish amazing things. Maybe it's time for a better dream.

September 16 2013 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Somebody give me a hand with the math. "... the economy is still down a net total of 240,000 jobs from where it was five years ago...(Bureau of Labor Statistics). ...during the worst of the recession back in 2010, the economy was behind a net total of 8.8 million jobs." These 10 employers have cut nearly a half million jobs in the last five years. I subtract half a million from 8.8 million and come up with about 8.3 million jobs still lost. Gotta be a lot of small business jobs lost since 2005. I can't believe we have recovered 8.3 million jobs since 2005, so how are we down only 240,000 jobs? I know many small companies who went under and did not come back. Voodoo stats? Anybody?

September 16 2013 at 12:22 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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