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10 Biggest Job Cuts Announcements Of 2011: Challenger

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As companies closing shop or cutting costs stoke recession fears, the return of mass layoffs may be the U.S. economy's greatest concern.

On the same day that President Barack Obama submitted the American Jobs Act to Congress, his plan to stimulate an ailing labor market, Bank of America announced it will lay off 30,000 employees due to restructuring. That's the largest layoff announcement in the country this year, according to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The bank's decision may not be the largest single layoff announcement in recent years -- that distinction belongs to Citigroup's November 2008 slashing of 50,000 jobs -- but in an economy that Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says has a 50 percent chance of falling back into recession, it's cause for concern. And Bank of America's announcement is only the latest layoffs news. Companies like pharmaceutical giant, Merck and Co., Borders and Cisco Systems Inc. already made large layoff announcements this year. U.S. Postal Service officials said earlier this month that they would slash their workforce by 20 percent.

Even less encouraging, small businesses laid off workers for the third straight month in August, after planned job cuts surged to 66,414 in July, a 16-month high. Still, signs for optimism do exist on the layoffs front, as planned jobs cuts fell by a nearly a quarter in August. If only the country could create some jobs too.

Here are the top 10 job cuts announcements of 2011, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas:

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