Companies by the thousands are announcing large layoffs to their labor forces and, in addition, cutting or freezing the pay of those who remain employed.
NEW YORK (Reuters) — AT&T Inc Chief Executive Randall Stephenson will forgo his 2008 bonus payment, and the company will freeze the salaries of 120,000 managerial employees this year, as the telecommunications company prepares for a grim year.
Stephenson’s decision, which he sent to employees in a memo on Friday, comes after the largest U.S. phone company said in December that it would cut 12,000 jobs, or 4% of its workforce.
As bad as the job cuts are, freezing and/or reducing pay for those still employed carries even more significance. The last time large numbers of companies reduced workers’ pay was during the depression of the 1930’s.
What type of demand destruction for their products or services are these companies forecasting that is forcing them to freeze or reduce pay?
US businesses are cutting costs drastically to survive as demand for their products evaporate. The chilling irony is that lower incomes will further reduce demand, thereby creating a self perpetuating downward spiral. The United States and the global economy are in a vicious de leveraging that will take years to resolve. Even a well conceived stimulus spending plan will do little to reverse the major trends working against economic growth. Those forecasting a quick economic turnaround are likely to be disappointed.