If you needed more proof that the U.S. economy is in trouble, look no further than today’s dismal economic news.

Major job cuts were announced today by some of the nation’s leading employers, inclucing 20,000 jobs lost at heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, 8,000 at Sprint Nextel, 7,000 at Home Depot, 2,000 at General Motors, 3,400 at Texas Instruments and 8,000 anticipated from the pending merger of the Pfizer and Wyeth pharmaceutical companies.

“It is not immediately clear how many of the job reductions will involve layoffs of U.S. workers, how many will come through attrition or other voluntary departures, and how many will involve positions overseas,” the Washington Post reports.

In Charlotte, the news means Home Depot will close its Home Depot Design Center in Midtown. No other Carolinas stores were on the closings list, says the Charlotte Observer.

The Charlotte Design Center opened in October 2007, just as the region’s housing market was starting to tank, reducing the need for remodeling and home furnishings.

It’s unclear when the Midtown store will close.

President Obama cited the latest round of job cuts as he pushed for passage of an $825 billion economic stimulus package that includes tax cuts, emergency benefits and public spending projects.

“These are not just numbers on a page,” he said. “As with the millions of jobs lost in 2008, these are working men and women whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold. We owe it to each of them and to every single American to act with a sense of urgency and common purpose. We can’t afford distractions and we cannot afford delays.”

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