In the early 1990’s, IBM laid off 135,000 workers (this is a number that I remember but I can only find support online for 115,000, still a HUGE number to be laid off in less than two years). Few to none of them were low-skill workers. And the number was SO huge that it was 10 times the total number employed at the time by Microsoft, the company that more than any other was making IBM’s life miserable.
From the early 1980’s through the early 2000’s, General Electric under the leadership of “Neutron Jack” Welch laid off between 120,000 and 160,000 workers (internet research supplies varying numbers).
From the distant past, I dredge up these two cases to make the point that “The New Economy” (the economy that is less and less dependent upon human labor, or high-skilled American labor) is not merely the consequence of computer / internet-based productivity gains or globalization / out-sourcing manufacturing jobs. These two and other early massive layoff events were often a consequence of “Mergers and Acquisitions.” M&A was part of a new strategy to boost corporate Bottom Lines – by terminating workers who did not contribute directly or adequately to that goal.