Many firms expect 2009 to be very tough.
Workers around the world face losing their jobs as several big corporations announced more than 70,000 layoffs in one single day.
The biggest cuts came in the US where construction equipment maker Caterpillar said it would cut around 20,000 jobs.
In Europe, electronics group Philips, financial firm ING and UK steelmaker Corus announced cuts.
The announcements underscore the depth of the global downturn.
"Without a doubt, 2009 will be a very tough year," said Caterpillar chief executive Jim Owens.
Many of the companies making layoffs unveiled poor financial results and issued gloomy outlooks for 2009.
Caterpillar said its fourth-quarter net profit fell 32% from a year ago to $661m (£482m).
Stimulus plan urged
US President Barack Obama cited the layoff announcements as he urged Congress to approve an $825bn economic stimulus package of tax cuts, emergency benefits and public spending projects.
"Those are not just numbers," he said, but more working men and women "whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold".
The companies making the biggest job cuts include:
GLOBAL JOB CUTS
Caterpillar - 20,000
ING - 7,000
Philips - 6,000
Corus - 3,500
Home Depot - 7,000
Pfizer/Wyeth - 20,000
Texas Instruments - 3,400
Sprint Nextel - 8,000
General Motors - 2,000
- Steelmaker Corus confirmed that it was cutting 3,500 jobs worldwide, including about 2,500 in the UK. The firm is a subsidiary of India's Tata Steel.
- US retailer Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement chain, said it would eliminate 7,000 jobs, or 2% of its work force, as it closes its Expo home design unit.
- US mobile phone service provider Sprint Nextel says it plan sto reduce its workforce by 8,000 as it seeks to cut costs.