If you thought that last week's wave of corporate layoffs was it -- one last desperate gasp before the recovery lifts all ships -- it's time to call for a lifeguard.

Several companies are at it again this week, and it's only Wednesday.

  • Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) is letting go 1,500 employees, or roughly 17% of its workforce.
  • You'll need to Photoshop 680 hires being displaced at Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) into this year's holiday party portrait.
  • Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) may have cut dozens of posts in its wholesale business last week, but the wireless carrier is now slashing 2,000 to 2,500 positions.
  • Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will close down six R&D centers, eliminating an unspecified number of jobs in the process.
  • Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) laid off 100 employees from its AOL subsidiary yesterday, readying the struggling online arm's spinoff.

The deluge of pink slips comes at a crummy time, in terms of both the upcoming holiday season and at a time when some signals are pointing to an economic turnaround.

Welcome to the fork in the road, investors. Who do you believe at this point? Even as many economists feel that the worst is behind us, companies that know their future prospects the best are hunkering down.

After covering last week's workforce dismissals, I asked readers what they thought. As of this morning:

  • 51% feel that the economy is going to get worse.
  • 34% believe that things are getting better.
  • 15% aren't sure of the economy's direction.

The sample of 274 poll participants just like you isn't perfect, but it clearly indicates that a lot of people are skeptical about the economy's prospects. With so much spent on stimulus packages and bailout plans, what's behind Door No. 2 if the doubters are right?

What would you do to get companies in hiring mode again? Share your blueprints in the comment box below.