The retail banking sector has seen its own share of job losses, including those caused by the largest bank failure of the year. When too many bad loans finally caught up with Washington Mutual, the nation's largest thrift, JPMorgan Chase, purchased the bank for $1.9 billion.
In December, JPMorgan announced the elimination of 9,200 jobs related to the WaMu acquisition. Another 9,160 jobs were cut in May by JP Morgan in connection with its acquisition of failed investment bank Bear Stearns.
Banking giant Citigroup had more layoffs than any other company in 2008, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Citigroup announced a 9,000-job reduction in April, but the brunt of its layoffs came right before Thanksgiving: another 50,000 jobs eliminated.
As Americans look for cheaper java, upscale coffee seller Starbucks is suffering. The company, facing competition from lower-cost companies such as Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's, announced in July it was closing 600 under-performing, company-owned stores and cutting U.S. expansion plans amid concerns about America's slowing economy. As part of those store closings, 12,000 jobs were lost.
Americans struggling with rising mortgages and high gas prices are also cutting back on the number of meals eaten out. One of the early casualties of the restaurant slump was Bennigan's. The franchise filed for bankruptcy in July, closing all the company-owned restaurants. About 9,300 people lost their jobs.
As shoppers stay home, stores ranging from toy sellers to even low-cost retailer Wal-Mart -- once considered to be relatively safe from recession woes -- are cutting back on staff.
Wal-Mart announced Feb. 10 that it would cut 800 jobs. Most of the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club job losses will come from the company's Arkansas headquarters. Despite the round of layoffs, Wal-Mart Inc. spokesman David Tovar said the company planned to add employees at retail stores across the country, according to the Associated Press.
Target Corp., the popular discount retailer, announced major layoffs in January. Target planned to reduce staff at its Minnesota headquarters, including about 600 employees and 400 open positions, primarily in the Twin Cities area. Later in the year, the company plans to close its Little Rock, Ark., distribution center, which staffs 500 employees.
In a statement to Reuters, the company cited the economy as the main reason for cutting jobs.
The crumbling economy has also taken its toll on one of the largest department store chains. Macy's announced Feb. 2 that it will cut 7,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its work force.
The company's cost-cutting measures include restructuring its retail divisions and reducing planned expenses. Macy's Inc. operates more than 840 department stores -- under Macy's and Bloomingdale's -- across the nation, with corporate offices located in New York and Cincinnati.
While belt-tightening consumers may embark on more do-it-yourself projects instead of hiring contractors, that hasn't stopped do-it-yourself mecca Home Depot from scaling back its operations. The home improvement retailer is closing its high-end EXPO stores, a move that will affect 7,000 employees, or 2 percent of the company's work force. In addition, Home Depot said it would also institute a salary freeze for company officers.