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Jun 3, 2020

AmEx fears second joblessness wave after no-layoff vows expire

American Express Co. chip credit cards are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

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American Express Co. fears the U.S. could see another increase in unemployment next year as large companies’ vows to avoid job cuts in 2020 begin to expire.

“The question is, Where does the economy go over the next six to 12 months?” Chief Financial Officer Jeff Campbell said at a virtual investor conference on Wednesday. “Have we had the main shock of unemployment and stress on the small businesses” or, he added, “are you going to see further shocks?”

The firm has pulled back on adding new credit-card customers because it can’t get a clear picture of consumers’ financial health and employment trends.

American Express itself committed to making no job cuts this year as it works through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sapped consumer spending and forced the company to increase its loan-loss reserves.

Still, Campbell said Wednesday, the firm’s attrition rates have held steady throughout the crisis. That’s helped bolster American Express’s card-fee revenue, which is likely to rise by a percentage in the “mid-teens” this quarter, he said.