Survey Nearly 40 Percent of Businesses Poised to Lay Off Workers

By Staff Report

Nov. 11, 2008

If economic conditions don’t improve soon, it appears that the majority of companies are set to begin implementing hiring freezes or laying off their workers.

About three-quarters of human resources executives polled at several hundred companies said budget cuts across their entire organizations are likely.

According to the poll, released Monday, November 10, by the Society for Human Resource Management, 55 percent of these HR professionals said that it was probable that they would put a freeze on hiring efforts. Layoffs are another likely course of action if the economy doesn’t begin to pick up soon, close to 40 percent of the executives also said.

Roughly half of the respondents indicated that wage freezes and bonuses cuts were other likely responses to the downturn.

Job losses have already begun to mount, with employers slashing more than 240,000 positions last month, according to the latest payroll numbers from the Department of Labor. The DOL revealed these figures Friday, along with revised job losses for September and August.

The unemployment rate spiked to 6.5 percent in October—its highest level since March 1994.

That percentage is likely to go much higher. On Monday, Deutsche Post said it would eliminate 9,500 jobs in its U.S.-based express delivery service, DHL, by early next year.

Likewise, Nortel Networks, which recorded its biggest quarterly loss in seven years in the third quarter, said it would lay off more than 1,300 workers. And executives at Rockwell Collins disclosed Monday that the aerospace components company will trim its workforce by 1.5 percent, or 300 employees. Rockwell Collins will also delay merit increases for its management team and the majority of its workers, and defer or eliminate some open positions at the company.

Filed by Mark Bruno of Financial Week, a sister publication of Workforce Week. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce

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