More Pain On the Way For Early '09

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Job opportunities and compensation are set to contract further after the New Year, leading consultants predict, and finance departments probably won't get a pass this time around.

That represents another somber note for current and former Wall Streeters looking for refuge in the corporate sector.

The media gave boatloads of ink last week to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas' prediction that more than 1 million jobs would be cut in 2009. While the figure is dramatic, the U.S. already lost well over 1 million jobs during 2008. A separate report from Watson Wyatt found that 23 percent of employers surveyed in early December said they plan layoffs in 2009.

More interesting, however, are various granular details in the Watson Wyatt report. As related in a CNNMoney story, 19 percent of respondents planned to freeze salaries in the the next 12 months, and another 13 percent had already frozen salaries. Three months ago, those figures came in at just 12 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

A majority of employers, 61 percent, planned to "revise" budgets for merit raises - nearly triple the number from October's survey. While CNNMoney's story is doesn't specify direction, it's probably safe to take "revise" as a euphemism for "reduce."

These changes are expected to play out in coming months. And the broad swath of cost-cutting measures is a strong indication that employees in corporate treasury and finance departments will bear their share of pain.

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