Your Bagel or Your Job

Layoffs are increasing rapidly, yet many companies would rather cut perks and salaries than employees

Luring new hires with signing bonuses and in-house masseuses was the game less than a year ago. But today, as the economy staggers, it's slash-and-burn--perks, pay and personnel. The numbers are getting ugly. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says announced job cuts for December were the highest since the firm began tracking them in 1993. And January's are bound to be even higher. General Electric is poised to idle 75,000, according to BusinessWeek Online, though GE disputes that figure.

Many companies have gone into advanced penny-pinching mode to avoid cuts or further cuts, something they haven't had to do...

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