December 21, 2008

Businesses cut labor costs, save some jobs

Some U.S. businesses are cutting labor costs but saving jobs, using an array of approaches including cutting hours and freezing wages, The New York Times said.

Some employers are instituting four-day work weeks, unpaid leave and furloughs in hopes of avoiding layoffs, or at least limiting them, the newspaper reported Sunday.

Some company officials say the current economic crisis came on so suddenly they don't want to cut staff so much that they'd be understaffed if it recovered just as suddenly. Also, many businesses have been careful with their hiring practices -- especially during 2008, as the economic downturn became more evident -- that those who remain on the payroll tend to be productive employees, the newspaper said.

Dell has workers on extended unpaid holiday leave, while Motorola has cut salaries and some Nevada casinos have implemented four-day workweeks, the Times said.

Pay cuts do not seem to be widespread the report said. Labor Department figures indicate the average hourly pay for about 80 percent of the work force grew by 3.7 percent last month from November 2007.

Other cost cutting measures being considered include mandatory holiday shutdowns and smaller company contributions to retirement and healthcare plans, the newspaper said.