The recession is killing jobs at an alarming pace, with tens of thousands of new layoffs already announced this week by some of the biggest names in American business - Pfizer, Caterpillar, Target and Home Depot.

"We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg - the big firms," said Rebecca Braeu, economist at John Hancock Financial Services. "There are certainly other firms beneath them that will lay off workers as quickly or even quicker."

Some economists are predicting a net loss of at least 2 million jobs in 2009, possibly more.

Last year, the economy lost a net 2.6 million jobs, the most since 1945.

The unemployment rate is now at a 16-year high.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Wyeth and Sprint Nextel Corp. said they each will slash 8,000 jobs.

Home Depot Inc., the biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., will get rid of 7,000 jobs.

General Motors Corp., after major cuts, said it will cut 2,000 more jobs at plants in Michigan and Ohio.

Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, disclosed nearly 20,000 job cuts.

Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. is eliminating jobs in markets particularly hard hit by the recession, the number has not been disclosed.

Halliburton competitor Schlumberger Ltd. said last week that it will cut up to 5,000 jobs worldwide.

Brooks Automation Inc. said Monday it plans to get rid of 350 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, a second round of cuts for Brooks.

Microsoft Corp. said it will slash up to 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months.

Intel Corp. said it will cut up to 6,000 manufacturing jobs.

And United Airlines parent UAL Corp. said it would get rid of 1,000 jobs, on top of 1,500 axed late last year.

WORRKFORCE SAYS CALHOUN TOPS LIST - Workforce's unemployment rates increased in 47 West Virginia counties in December, with Calhoun County leading the pack at 7.7 percent. The unemployment number is based on individuals getting unemployment checks, not those who have fallen from the roll.


WHOLESALE OUTFIT COULD BE CLOSING - A long-time wholesale outfit and distribution company Goldsmit-Black, located in Vienna, could be closing down.

The company is trying to sell the business, and it's unclear what will actually happen.

Nelson Graham, Regional Coordinator with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, says the purchase is expected to result in 32 union members losing their jobs.

Company officials have declined to comment.

WV GLASS MAKER LAYS-OFF 75% OF WORKERS - A Bridgeport, West Virginia flat glass maker says it will lay off 75 percent of its work force this week.

The lay-offs are connected to the downturn in the automotive industry.

The 180 layoffs at AGC Flat Glass North America's plant in Bridgeport will take effect Thursday.

The plant employs 240, and has been in operation since 1976.

GEORGIA PACIFIC AXES 70 of 113 - Georgia-Pacific Corp. in Mount Hope is temporarily laying off 70 of its 113 employees.

"This is a temporary curtailment of our plant operations in Mount Hope," said Melodie Ruse, company representative.

The 70 employees comprise the plant's entire production staff.

"We are expecting operations at the plant in Mount Hope to be down for a few months," she said.

Ruse said the layoffs are effective immediately and cited the economic downturn in the housing market as the reason.

WV BANKRUPTCY FILINGS UP - Bankruptcy filings in West Virginia increased by about 18 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Nationwide the increase was about 33%.

The bankruptcies come after the Bush administration passed legislation that makes it more difficult to file.

There were 5,312 filings statewide in 2008, an increase from 4,492 in 2007.

William Pepper, a Charleston bankruptcy lawyer, told media he's now seeing clients with incomes of $80,000 to $100,000.

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