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Chrysler to cut out more white-collar jobs

LAS VEGAS - Chrysler Corp. said Sunday it will cut deeper into its salaried work force as it continues with an accelerated cost-cutting program. The nation's No. 3 automaker in October announced a program designed to carve $1-billion in costs from its $26-billion budget by the end of 1990. At the time, Chrysler said 2,300 salaried employees, or 8 percent of its 31,000-member white-collar work force, would be removed from its payroll.

Chrysler spokesman Steve Harris said Sunday that more white-collar workers would be cut through attrition. He said he couldn't say how many positions the company planned to eliminate, and knew of no plans for further layoffs.

Automotive News, a weekly industry journal, quoted unidentified sources in its Monday editions as saying the new round of cuts would remove 5 percent to 10 percent of the company's salaried work force in addition to those announced in October.

"White-collar reductions are becoming a way of life at Chrysler," Harris said. "A certain part will come through attrition."

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have said they, like Chrysler, constantly are reviewing their employment levels. In 1987, GM began its "Action Plan," to cut costs. Since then, its original target has been raised to $13-billion by 1991.

Ford has no formal cost-cutting plan similar to GM's or Chrysler's.

The automakers will give better pictures of changes in their employment levels later this week when they report 1989 earnings.

The latest salaried work-force reduction at Chrysler is likely to be met favorably on Wall Street, said auto analyst Thomas O'Grady, president of Integrated Automotive Resources Inc. of Wayne, Pa. "What I would be concerned about is what they are doing with the savings," he said Sunday. "If it is just to have a better bottom line, that's not so good."

He suggested that the company funnel the money into product development. There was no indication from Harris about where the savings would be sent, but if the job cuts were part of the overall cost-reduction program, it would be unlikely that product development would get much.

Auto analyst Steve Girsky of PaineWebber Inc. in New York City said the newest cuts should be well received.

"I think this company is serious about slimming down," he said.