Over the course of the week, I've noted a disturbing trend. Large companies Wal-mart and Verizon both said that they would continue cutting jobs this year. You can add Home Depot to that list. It will eliminate 1,000 jobs as it closes some underperforming stores and cuts labor costs. As more layoff news comes in, the hope of an employment recovery looks grimmer.
The stores, affecting about 100 jobs, are a small-format store in Wilson, N.C.; a temporary hurricane-recovery outlet in Waveland, Miss.; and a clearance outlet in Austell, Ga. The company said it has no plans to close its orange big-box stores.
Approximately 900 other jobs being cut relate to the company consolidating its human-resources, finance, real-estate and construction functions, including centralizing its HR structure mostly back to its Atlanta headquarters instead of having a field-team structure by districts, company spokesman Ron Defeo said. Finance will now have a pool support structure instead of dedicated support teams previously.
Don't get me wrong: these cuts all sound like sound business. But that isn't particularly reassuring in the context of 10% national unemployment. After a two-year recession, companies should already be finished with such cuts. Sure, 1,000 is less than 1% of Home Depot's workers, a much smaller portion than Verizon's planned 11% cut mentioned yesterday. But it still indicates that the job market may still be moving in the wrong direction.
What's most troubling is that we aren't just hearing that companies don't think they'll hire much -- they're still planning on firing additional workers. If most big companies are still seeking to make their operations leaner throughout 2010, then I worry an employment recovery may not be in the cards.