Citing the recent economic downturn, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday it is "currently not hiring new employees."
The temporary action "is consistent with the principles of thrift and fiscal responsibility that the church has long encouraged its members to practice," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said in an e-mail. "[It] covers all church employment in the United States and internationally, including Brigham Young University. Provisions for exceptions may be made in cases of particular need."
This is not the first time the Salt Lake City-based church, Utah's largest employer, has made tough decisions about its work force.
In 2002, the church offered voluntary early retirement to about 1,000 eligible employees. Nearly 600 of them opted to leave, and 40 percent of their positions were not filled. The plan was to use volunteers whenever possible.
At the time, about 3,760 employees worked at the church's 28-story worldwide headquarters. About 400 staff members were employed on Temple Square and at the Administration Building.
BYU, the church's flagship school in Provo, had a faculty and staff of 18,000 in 2002, enough to qualify it as the state's third-largest employer at the time, while LDS seminaries and institutes of religion had an estimated 2,035 instructors and staff.
The church also employed a virtual army of custodians, about 1,500 to polish and maintain its thousands of meetinghouses and facilities throughout the state, as well as approximately 75 in the headquarters building. The church has recently scaled back its use of custodians in ward houses, stake buildings and even the Conference Center, relying instead on volunteers.
Another note of interest in 2002 was the estimated 75 employees employed in the church's catastrophe-proof vault carved into the granite mountainside on the north side of Little Cottonwood Canyon southeast of Salt Lake City. The facility is used to store billions of microfilmed family history and other records.
Deseret Industries is the church's largest for-profit business. In 2002, an estimated 1,705 employees were engaged in collecting, refurbishing and reselling second-hand furniture, appliances, clothes and other merchandise. Deseret Industries provides training to hundreds of disabled people, with the goal of preparing trainees for and placing them in other private-sector jobs.