Google is closing three engineering offices and cutting 100 recruiters from its work force as the recession dampens hiring at the internet search company.

"Given the state of the economy, we recognised that we needed fewer people focused on hiring," Laszlo Bock, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog posting announcing the layoffs.

In a separate post, Google said it would close its engineering offices in Austin, Texas; Trondheim, Norway and Lulea, Sweden, a step the company said would affect 70 workers.

"Our strong desire is to keep as many of these 70 engineering employees at Google as possible," wrote Google's vice president for engineering and research, Alan Eustace.

"Our long-term goal is not to trim the number of people we have working on engineering projects or reduce our global presence, but create a smaller number of more effective engineering sites," he added.

The cuts follow news last week of a government filing from Google showing a significant cutback in temporary employees aimed at trimming costs. The company acknowledged in November that it would be looking to reduce contract workers while retaining full-time staff. Google hasn't said how many positions it plans to eliminate.

The layoffs represent only a small portion of Google's global work force - less than 1 per cent of the 20,100 total. But the move is a rare blemish on the company's worker-friendly reputation.

As consumers shop less online and advertising budgets shrink, Google's ad revenue has been growing at a slower pace, leading the company to cut back on some of its famous employee perks.

While giving no sign that it will limit research and development or acquisitions, Google has closed some of its free cafeterias. And instead of its customary US$1,000 holiday gift, the company handed out $400 Android cell phones to workers last month.

Google also appears to be trimming the number of projects it devotes engineers and money to. The company made four separate announcements saying it will shutter some of its less popular applications.

Google Notebook, a feature that allows users to save and bookmark text notes, will stop accepting new users and Google Catalog search, a searchable trove of product catalogues, will be shut down. Google is also ceasing work on Jaiku, an application that let cell phone users broadcast their whereabouts to friends, and closing and Mashup Editor. Google Video will no long accept user-uploaded content.

Google shares fell $9.34, or about 3 per cent, to $291.63 in afternoon trading Thursday.