Lower Sales Bring Brutal Job Cuts

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Several big companies are announcing massive layoffs in the coming months, hoping to "align production with market demand" in the country.

Home Depot, GM, Caterpillar and Sprint-Nextel will be sending out 37,000 pink slips total this year. Thousands more jobs are also expected to be cut as drug maker Pfizer Inc. buys out its rival Wyeth for $68 billion.

Slow sales have forced General Motors to cut 2,000 jobs in Michigan and Ohio, and halt production for weeks at nine plants.

Home Depot will lay off 7,000 workers and shut down some of its smaller home improvement chains, including the once popular Expo Design Centers.

Caterpillar, the world's largest producer of construction equipment, will make larger cuts, dropping its workers by 20,000. Sprint-Nextel will cut 850 positions.

The lay offs come as President Obama's economic stimulus package continues to push through Congress. The plan calls for $825 billion in spending and tax cuts, though lawmakers are still bargaining on how much of each to include.

Meanwhile, home sales are showing a much-needed boost. The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes rose 6.5 percent, to an annual rate of 4.74 million last month.

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