Layoffs are not the only answer to a bank's cost-cutting goals. Some have found other ways, such as retraining, hiring freezes, and restrictions on overtime.

Commerical Bank, for example, a Salem, Ore.-based community bank with 10 branches and fewer than 200 full-time employees, has saved about $200,000 after just three to four months of experimenting with alternatives to layoffs. For this bank, retraining, unpaid days and hours, itinerant bankers, and hiring and overtime freezes help close the gap when revenues flag.

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