Buffett's Companies Slash 21,000 Jobs - TheStreet

Buffett's Companies Slash 21,000 Jobs

Berkshire Hathaway's investments have been a mixed bag in 2009 -- and a Christmas-week filing from Warren Buffett shows that employees are suffering along with returns in 2009.
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OMAHA, Neb. (

TheStreet

) -- It hasn't been the best year for the stocks in

Berkshire Hathaway's

(BRK.B) - Get Report

famed investment portfolio -- and, indeed, a recent filing shows that Warren Buffett has been busy pink-slipping along with the rest of the U.S. corporate sector in response to the performance shortfalls.

In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing related to the upcoming acquisition of

Burlington Northern

(BNI)

, Berkshire Hathaway reported 21,000 fewer employees than it had at the end of 2008. The Berkshire Hathaway filing reported 225,000 workers, 8.6% lower than the more than 246,000 noted in the 2008 annual report.

The SEC filing was released just ahead of the Christmas holiday, a metaphorical coal in the stocking for many of Berkshire's former employees.

While Berkshire Hathaway's performance returned to positive territory in the second and third quarters after its first-quarter disappointment, job cuts were made by Berkshire throughout the year.

Performance problems in Berkshire Hathaway portfolio companies, including

NetJets

, have been widely reported. Buffett has in the past said that owning or running a commercial airline might not be preferable to suicide. Still, it's his "personal indulgence," the private jet industry, which has really struggled. NetJets has cut 800 employees since it replaced its CEO in August.

Berkshire's holdings in manufacturing, service and retail have suffered the most in 2009.

Fruit of the Loom

laid off 3,000 Latin American workers in March, though it planned to hire back 1,000 workers as conditions improved at year-end.

Job losses were also experienced by

Shaw Industries

, the carpet and flooring manufacturer, which eliminated approximately 1,000 jobs. Berkshire's

Buffalo News

slashed 100 positions through voluntary buyouts.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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