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Labor Day 2012: 8 Biggest Layoff Announcements

PRNewsFoto/Verizon Wireless(NEW YORK) --  It seems it's going to be another tough Labor Day for labor. The U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, with most jobs lost this year from local and federal government.

In the private sector, many companies are shedding headcount not so much due to a flailing economy, as in previous years, but because of the state of its business or industry, said John Challenger, CEO of executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

While many companies quietly and slowly reduce headcount, here are some of the biggest layoff announcements this year that crossed news headlines, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

1. Hewlett-Packard Co.
Technology company Hewlett-Packard announced in May that it expects "approximately 27,000 employees to exit the company, or 8.0 percent of its workforce, as of Oct. 31, 2011, by the end of fiscal year 2014."

The multi-year restructuring plan that included the reduction came after HP reported lower-than-expected third-quarter financial results. The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., had 350,000 employees as of Oct. 31, 2011.

With competitive pressure from other computer makers, HP is facing a big legacy in a slow growth business, Challenger said.

2. American Airlines
American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November, had initially announced in February that it would eliminate 13,000 positions in a restructuring process, but it has since narrowed those cuts to 10,000.

"American Airlines is restructuring its business and must significantly reduce its labor costs, which will be done by implementing new, consensual labor contracts and changes via a court-supervised process," the company said in a statement to ABC News. "Over time, the company will eliminate 10,000 positions, which is substantially fewer than originally contemplated earlier this year. Fortunately, through voluntary separation programs, we expect far fewer people to be affected than the number of positions."

The company has been negotiating with its pilots' unions over contracts. American and American Eagle have almost 88,500 full-time and part-time employees worldwide, according to its website, while 77 percent of them are represented by one of three labor unions: Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Transport Workers Union.

3. PepsiCo
PepsiCo hasn't had an easy summer in its Purchase, N.Y., headquarters.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in June he wanted to ban large soft drink sales from the city. And this week, the state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced he's opened an investigation into the energy drink industry. Last month, Schneiderman issued a subpoena to PepsiCo, maker of AMP Energy.

Food and beverage company PepsiCo announced a number of strategic changes in February, such as increasing advertising by $500 to $600 million this year and reducing headcount by 8,700 across 30 countries. The reduction represents about three percent of its global workforce and less than two percent domestically.

4. Food Lion
In January, grocer Food Lion, owned by Delhaize America based in Salisbury, N.C., announced 4,900 employees were exiting the company, some related to the closure of 113 Food Lion stores. The company has about 74,000 total employees.

A spokeswoman for the company said they were able to find retail jobs for a number of the individuals affected by the announcement.

5. Procter & Gamble
Last year, consumer products company Procter & Gamble announced plans to reduce its global non-manufacturing enrollment by 10 percent, or about 5,700 roles, over two years ending June 30, 2013.

In February, the company said it planned to cut 1,600 jobs of the 5,700 by June. The company has reduced 3,000 roles to date, a company spokeswoman told ABC News.

6. Old Country Buffet Inc. (Buffets Inc.)
In January, Buffets Inc., the owners of Old Country Buffett and HomeTown Buffet, said it was filing for bankruptcy and it planned to close 81 restaurants nationwide, which Challenger, Gray and Christmas estimates is leading to a cut of 3,000 positions.

Buffets Inc. did not return a request for comment.

Buffets Inc. filed for bankrupty previously in January 2008, closing 51 restaurants and laying off 2,300 employees.

7. Albertsons (Nevada & California)
In June, grocer Albertsons announced it was laying off up to 2,500 workers in California and Nevada beginning that month.

Albertsons and Food Lion face similar struggles, as they are reflective of very thin margins in the food business, Challenger said.

The supermarket chain has more than 450 locations in about nine states and is a subsidiary of SuperValu, based in Boise, Idaho.

Albertsons did not return a request for comment.

8. Best Buy Co. Inc.
In July, electronics retailer Best Buy announced it was laying off 2,400 workers, including 600 Geek Squad (aka tech support) representatives.

The company has struggled with sales, reporting earlier this month a near 90 percent drop in profit in its second quarter.

Challenger said tight sales margins are in part due to competition from companies like Amazon and the ability of consumers to quickly compare prices between stores.

Best Buy did not return a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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