For years, American multinationals have been pilloried for shipping U.S. jobs overseas. Now, they're exporting something else: layoffs. As more and more employers respond to the economic slowdown by hacking payrolls, a growing number are doing their job-chopping abroad.
The toll is substantial. Dig into the 10 biggest cutbacks announced by U.S. companies this year, and you'll find that at least 46,000 -- almost half the jobs axed -- are abroad. Economist Gordon Richards of the National Association of Manufacturers says that could help the U.S. rebound faster. "American business is not firing as many of its own customers," he reasons.
Among the giants going abroad with their axes: Motorola, Goodyear, Procter & Gamble, Compaq Computer, JDS Uniphase, and Delphi Automotive. Each is cutting at least 2,500 overseas jobs. Sara Lee recently announced 1,300 job cuts -- not one in the U.S. All are at its Hanes clothing plants in Central and South America. Those were on top of 7,000 layoffs earlier this year that were almost entirely in Europe. Why the foreign bias? After restructuring its U.S. operations in the 1990s, Sara Lee says overseas is where it can now save the most money.
Of course, many Americans are still getting tossed out of work. But it's clear the rest of the world is sharing their pain.
By Michael Arndt in Chicago