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CFOs predict more layoffs - survey

Chief financial officers don't expect global economy to begin recovery until 2010.

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By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Almost three out of five chief financial officers from throughout the world expect future workforce reductions in the recession, which they predict won't abate before next year, according to an annual survey released Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by financial services company American Express and CFO Research Services, polled 285 chief financial officers from the United States and other nations in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia about their thoughts on the future of the economy.

The report focused on ways CFOs plan to control costs during the downturn. Questions about changes in the workforce revealed 59% of respondents expect "a decrease in headcount."

That's in line with U.S. data last week that revealed the unemployment rate hit a 25-year high in April.

And the CFOs don't expect improvement anytime soon - 70% of respondents said the economy won't recover until sometime in 2010.

"Companies are moving into a more mandated environment," said Wendy Prewitt, a vice president at American Express. "Everyone is tightening their belts to manage through the short-term."

Companies are also taking actions now in order to avoid future layoffs, the report said. Half the respondents said they expected to freeze salaries and bonuses, while almost one-third plan to reduce benefits or cut salaries and bonuses.

"They're finding creative ways to keep from having to lay people off," Prewitt said. "They realize they have to keep top talent through the recession."

What they'll do: Almost one-quarter of CFOs surveyed said they planned to reduce work hours or give furloughs, and 16% expected temporary office closures.

Still, the CFOs polled noted several sectors in which it's important to sustain spending: information technology, cited by 69%; employee benefits, named by 64%; marketing, advertising and public relations, named by 57% of CFOs; and research and development, cited by 54%.

While 87% said their companies plan to spend less on business travel this year, revenue-generating travel remained strong - 82% are likely to maintain or increase travel to see new clients or for business development.

Almost two-thirds of the CFOs said they plan to maintain or increase travel to meet with existing clients.

American Express said the survey was completed last month. To top of page

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