By David ScheppWith just two weeks to go in the year, the number of job cuts announced by U.S. employers is behind last year's pace, though it's still staggering high -- with 490,806 job cuts this year (as of November). Last month alone, the nation's employers announced plans to cut more than 57,000 positions, only the fourth time this year in which monthly job cuts exceeded 50,000, according to data compiled by employment-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. The reasons that employers have given for mass layoffs have ranged from a change in business strategy to bankruptcy. And the layoffs have occurred across a wide spectrum of industries, from retail to manufacturing to financial services. But what most have shared: extraordinary generosity to the corporate titans at the top. So which American companies have made the most draconian job cuts in 2012? AOL Jobs has compiled a list of employers that slashed the most jobs in the United States: MET) Job cuts: 4,300 Though best known for selling life insurance, Metlife was also in the mortgage-origination business -- that is until it announced plans in January to shutter the unit. The move led to the elimination of most of the 4,300 workers who worked in that sector, and cost the company $90 million. About 20 percent, or 860, of the jobs were based in Irving, Texas, with the rest scattered throughout the nation. J.C. Penney Co. ( JCP) Job cuts: 4,700 As part of its plan to refresh its stodgy image, the venerable retailer announced plans in January to sell its merchandise at "everyday prices," rather than relying on frequent promotions to drive sales. As part of that plan, the Plano, Texas-based company said it would lay off 4,700 workers. The company said the cuts largely affected temporary workers. The pricing plan has failed to ignite sales, however. Last month, J.C. Penney said it recorded a $123 million loss in the quarter ending Oct. 31 -- likely leaving many still-employed Penney workers to ponder what the future holds.