As far as showing up for work on a Monday goes, yesterday was about the worst.
In one of the worst-single days ever for widespread layoffs, more than 78,000 workers yesterday got pink-slip notices at global public companies, cutting across almost every business sector - from bankers and engineers to amusement-park workers and sales clerks.
Among the hardest hit was Caterpillar, which announced it was axing 20,000 due to the global slowdown for heavy equipment, Home Depot, which is slashing 7,000 jobs from the shutdown of its Expo home-decorating business, and Sprint Nextel, which will reduce its payroll by 8,000, or 15 percent, to save $1.2 billion.
"We haven't seen this much activity in one day, affecting such a diversity of industries and of such scale," said James Pedderson, a spokesman at Challenger Gray & Christmas, which tracks company layoffs. "The job cuts in the 2001 and 2002 tech bubble were huge, but didn't affect sectors as broadly as this."
He said the worst month for job cuts was in January 2002, when 248,475 jobs were lost, mostly in the tech industry and financial services.
Nevertheless, in this month alone - just 16 business days in - at least 150,500 people have been targeted for layoffs, said Challenger. That means unemployment lines are likely to get longer as US jobless claims, already at a 26-year high, continue to rise.
In other squeezes, the $68 billion defensive merger of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth will shutter five factories and eliminate 19,000 jobs, or 15 percent, of the combined companies' payroll.
General Motors, which has already slashed tens of thousands of jobs, said yesterday it would eliminate another 2,000 jobs by closing shifts in Michigan and Ohio plants.
While the job outlook turned more grim, at least one new opportunity arose that didn't exist before - a mass national job hunt for more tax collectors and auditors, with starting pay at around $45,000.
Just days after President Barack Obama took office with promises to create more jobs, the Internal Revenue Service issued its surprise call for "hundreds" of new IRS officers, reflecting the government's need for more tax revenue ahead.