Jan 26


Paul King, mine manager, inspects a Caterpillar Inc. haul truck at the Australian Bulk Minerals iron ore mine at Savage River in Tasmania, Australia, on Nov. 6, 2008. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg News

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Caterpillar Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Home Depot Inc. led companies today announcing at least 72,500 job cuts as sales withered and construction slowed amid a global economic recession that may persist through 2009.

The biggest layoffs were at Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar. The world’s largest maker of construction equipment said it’s cutting 20,000 jobs after fourth-quarter profit fell by almost a third.

Pfizer Inc., the New York-based drugmaker that’s acquiring competitor Wyeth for $68 billion, said it will close five factories and eliminate 19,000 jobs, or 15 percent, of the combined company’s workforce.

The firings came as American jobless claims hit a 26-year high, reaching 589,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, as shrinking demand for products and services forced companies to lower costs.

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