Employees streamed from the Tennessee Valley Authority in a sea of pink clothing, symbolizing the slips many of them carried as the nation's largest supplier of electricity slashed its workforce by nearly a quarter.

"It's an awful day," said Deedra Sluder, a worker in the employee relations office who, like many, had expected the layoffs. "Our branch manager called us in one-by-one. He did it as best he could. It was hard on him."TVA Chairman Marvin Runyon on Wednesday announced that TVA will lay off 7,500 of its 34,000 workers, or 22 percent, by October. He said the cutbacks are necessary for the survival of the federal utility, which operates in seven states and serves 8 million people.

Runyon, who became TVA chairman in January after serving as chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. USA, said in April that TVA was bloated and top-heavy and would have to slim down to compete with privately owned utilities.