Following the financial crisis that shook Wall Street in the fall of 2008, employers laid off throngs of workers. Many of the jobs they held have disappeared for good, which is one reason the nation’s jobless rate remains above 9 percent, nearly three years after the boom went bust.
Though the tanking economy was largely blamed for the massive loss of jobs (on one day alone in January 2009, a dozen companies slashed more than 60,000 positions, TheStreet.com notes), it’s dubious whether CEOs at some of the nation’s largest corporations did all they could to preserve jobs.
According to a study released last year by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, CEOs at the 50 firms that laid off the most workers since the economic crisis, took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than comparable companies within the S&P 500.
“The $598 million combined compensation of the top 50 CEOs in our layoff leader survey could provide average unemployment benefits to 37,759 workers for an entire year — or nearly a month of benefits for each of the 531,363 workers their companies laid off,” according to the study, titled, CEO Pay and the Great Recession. “CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks,” lead author Sarah Anderson wrote.
So who are these “job-killing” CEOs? Here are a few of the the Top 10 job slashers, as compiled by TheStreet . com.
- Frederick “Fritz” Henderson, General Motors. Henderson didn’t cause GM’s fiscal woes (blame those on his predecessor, G. Richard “Rick” Wagner, who presided over the company from 2003 to 2009), but the company’s failing fortunes only became worse during his brief nine-month stint. Over a period of 15 months, ending in April 2010, the nation’s largest automaker laid off nearly 76,000 workers. After factoring in the impact on GM dealerships, total job losses topped 100,000.
- Vikram Pandit, Citigroup. The banking sector of course was among the hardest hit industries as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis. In response, Pandit reduced payrolls by more than 75,000 through a combination of job reductions and buyouts. More than 52,000 of those cuts were announced in November 2008 alone.
- Ken Lewis, Bank of America. Similarly to Citigroup, BofA’s fortunes sank along with the financial crisis. In response, CEO Lewis cut 35,000 jobs at the height of the recession, driven in part by the purchase and integration of Merrill Lynch. In total, nearly 10 percent of the combined workforce was slashed, TheStreet.com notes.
- Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard (HP). Hurd, who lost his own job at the computing giant when questions were raised about improper accounting of his business expenses and a dalliance with a former reality TV star, was responsible for 33,600 job cuts, before being shown the door last August. On Sept. 15, 2008, the day Lehman Bros. collapsed, HP said it cut 24,600 jobs, as a result of its purchase of Electronic Data Systems.
- James Owens, Caterpillar. From 2008 through last year, then-CEO Owens cut 27,500 jobs as demand for heavy farm machinery and other equipment slumped along with the economy.
Check out the entire list of 10 CEOs Who Became ‘Job Killers’ at the TheStreet . com.