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Here are painful reminders of how bad job cuts can get: the 12 biggest layoffs since 2000. The numbers were provided to Moneywise by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an employment services firm that tracks layoff announcements.

12. Wells Fargo

Portland, Oregon, United States - Dec 19, 2017: Building of Wells Fargo Center in downtown Portland
ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 26,500

Banking giant Wells Fargo announced in September 2018 that it would shrink its workforce by up to 10% over three years.

The company's CEO told employees the move was partly due to "the accelerating adoption of digital self-service capabilities." Say what? He was talking about the great shift to online banking and away from brick-and-mortar branches.

But news of the job cuts also followed a series of business scandals that drove away customers and saddled Wells Fargo with more than $1 billion in fines and penalties.

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11. Hewlett-Packard

PALO ALTO, CA/USA - MARCH 16, 2014: Hewlett-Packard corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley. HP provides hardware, software and services to consumers, businesses and government.
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 27,000

In hopes of making itself a more nimble competitor in the tech industry, computer company Hewlett-Packard announced layoffs in May 2012.

At the time, HP was the world's largest maker of personal computers, printers and servers. But sales of its PCs had fallen 15% during the 2011 holiday season, and profits were sliding.

HP was struggling to stay relevant. Though many of its customers were going mobile, the company had no tablet or a smartphone to offer them.

8. (tie) Toys R Us

© 2018 Philip Meier Photographer,April 21, 2018 - Paramus, NJ, USA. Toys R Us retail outlet going out of business in New Jersey.
photobyphm / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 30,000

The retail giant that helped make playtime fun for generations of kids filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and said it would close all 740 of its U.S stores and lay off its store employees.

Toys R Us was strangled by $5 billion in debt that had been hanging over the chain since 2005, when a couple of investment firms bought the company with a pile of borrowed money.

A terrible 2017 holiday season was "game over" for the toy retailer. Shoppers had abandoned Toys R Us in favor of Amazon, Walmart and Target.

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8. (tie) Bank of America

February 21, 2018 San Jose / CA / USA - Bank of America ATM's located at one of the bank's branches, San Francisco bay area
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 30,000

As part of a plan to save $5 billion and split itself into separate commercial and consumer banking businesses, Bank of America said in September 2011 that it would slash tens of thousands of jobs.

The CEO said the downsizing was all about protecting BofA from future losses.

But the company also was reeling from a weak economy and low interest rates. Plus, BofA had agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle with investors who lost money on investments tied to its mortgages.

8. (tie) Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Dec 4th, 2015: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's Signage in Cyberjaya, Malaysia
zakiahza / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 30,000

Hewlett-Packard was still in a mess in September 2015 and thought the solution was to break apart into two companies: one to concentrate on printers and PCs, and the other to focus on services.

But first, the services business — to be called Hewlett Packard Enterprise — would axe up to 30,000 workers in an effort to save $2.7 billion and making the new operation more competitive.

It was only the latest in many waves of cuts for HP's beleaguered workforce. Between 2002 and 2015, the company shed more than 120,000 jobs.

7. Boeing

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - CIRCA APRIL, 2012: Boeing Company Boeing 787 Dreamliner twin jet engine passenger aircraft flying
vaalaa / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 31,000

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, air travel dropped off dramatically and the airlines immediately chopped their orders for new Boeing planes by 25%.

The aircraft maker found itself in a crisis that it never anticipated.

The company responded on Sept. 19 with a massive layoff, which the CEO of Boeing's commercial airplanes division described as a "tremendous, sad thing."

6. Circuit City

FRISCO - JAN 30: Taken in Frisco, Texas January 30, 2009. Circuit City Electronics declares bankruptcy and closes stores.
Ken Durden / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 34,000

Remember Circuit City? It was the second-largest consumer electronics chain behind Best Buy and at one time had more than 700 stores — but the company came unplugged in 2009.

Less than two months after filing for bankruptcy, Circuit City announced in January 2009 that it would close its remaining 567 stores and lay off its employees.

What happened? Circuit City was done in by the Great Recession, a lousy 2008 holiday season and a global credit crunch that made it difficult for the retailer and its shoppers to borrow money.

5. Ford Motor

Bangkok, Thailand - March 15, 2018: Ford logo.
saksorn kumjit / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 35,000

Consumers shocked by the September 2001 terror attacks bought fewer cars, causing Ford's U.S. sales to sink 6% that year. The car company posted a huge $5.45 billion annual loss.

To start turning things around, the automaker announced in January 2002 that it would cut up to 25% of its workforce and phase out several vehicle models, including the Ford Escort and Mercury Cougar.

CEO Bill Ford called the cuts painful and said he would take no salary or bonuses in 2002, just stock options.

4. Kmart

SALINAS, CA/USA - APRIL 23, 2014: Kmart retail store exterior. Kmart is an American chain of discount department stores headquartered in the United States.
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 35,000

Mass Kmart store closings aren't just a recent thing — it was happening as far back as the early years of the century.

In January 2003, the discount chain announced it would shut down 326 stores and eliminate as many as 35,000 jobs. That was after closing 283 stores and cutting 22,000 positions in 2002.

Kmart's sales were falling and it was having trouble competing. In 2004 the retailer would merge with Sears — and things would only get worse.

3. Verizon Wireless

HDR image, Verizon Wireless retail storefront, customers shopping mobile devices - Saugus, Massachusetts USA - March 23, 2018
QualityHD / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 44,000

The Verizon Wireless "Can you hear me now?" commercial guy famously went to Sprint in 2016. In October 2018, Verizon was hoping far more of its people would leave.

The company offered a voluntary severance package to 44,000 employees and said it would transfer more than 2,500 information technology jobs to India.

America's largest wireless carrier said it was looking to save $10 billion that it could invest in a new 5G high-speed wireless network.

2. General Motors

Lafayette - Circa April 2018: Chevrolet Automobile Dealership with American flag. Chevy is a Division of General Motors
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 47,000

General Motors got slammed by the financial crisis and Great Recession, and by early 2009 the carmaker was preparing to enter bankruptcy and asking for federal aid to keep its doors open.

GM delivered a lot of bad news that February: It would close five factories, wipe out 47,000 jobs and eliminate its Hummer line of super-sized trucks and SUVs.

The company would go on to file for bankruptcy a few months later — one of the largest bankruptcies in history. A government bailout kept GM from totally going under.

1. Citigroup

Los Angeles, California, USA - May 26, 2016: Citi Credit Card is one of products of Citibank, the consumer division of financial services multinational Citigroup.
Supannee_Hickman / Shutterstock

Layoffs: 50,000

Citigroup was facing a heap of trouble in 2008, including big losses from bad loans and a worsening economic crisis that was taking hold around the globe.

The banking powerhouse decided in November of that year that it had no choice but to sell off parts of its business and point about 14% of its employees to the exits.

CEO Vikram Pandit believed Citigroup needed some "shock therapy" to pull it out of a slump, The New York Times reported.

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Doug Whiteman Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."


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