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Google Inc. has jettisoned a substantial number of temporary workers in a recent austerity drive spurred by the recession, although the Internet search leader still intends to spend billions of dollars during the next two years on product research, development and acquisitions.

The spending plans were outlined in a regulatory filing that also provided some clues about the magnitude of a recent payroll purge targeting Google's legion of contractors and other workers who aren't considered full-time or part-time employees.

The filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission was submitted on Dec. 15, but it was made on paper, leaving it unavailable through the various Web services that track reports to the agency. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the records this week.

A key section of the filing is being kept confidential because Google maintains it contains trade secrets, but the publicly accessible parts provide some information that hadn't previously been disclosed.

For instance, Google revealed it currently has 24,400 employees, including 4,300 interns, temporary workers and contractors. That contrasts sharply with the roughly 10,000 contractors that Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company had in October. "It's really high," Brin said in an Oct. 16 interview with the San Jose Mercury News.

Google acknowledged in late November that it planned to significantly reduce the number of its contractors and retain all of its full-time employees.

But the company wouldn't specify how many of the temporary workers were being dumped, feeding rampant speculation among bloggers and even industry analysts. Published estimates of the cost-cutting's impact ranged from a few hundred to all 10,000 of Google's contractors.


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