Last year, my D&D group attendance was really good. All 6 non-DM players were frequently available on game-day and the campaign progressed quickly.
Recently, 3 people with a nearly 100% attendance rate left the game and both the new players and some of the old are sometimes unable to join because of their jobs or other more organized hobbies (night class, overtime, out of city meetings spanning over multiple days, volleyball matches).
Now, I think that the campaign should go on even if some player is missing, especially if we're dungeon crawling and no big plot events are in sight. After all, it's not like the guys who can't join would get more game nights if we don't meet, because once this camapign ends we can always start a new one.
When we had DM+4 players, our social contract said that we would still meet with DM+3 players available. We tried not changing it, and a new problem arose.
When people are missing, I could build smaller encounters targeted at the available players only. This would mean that the PCs of the missing players are not losing HP, surges or Daily powers. In turn, this means that the "hack through the party resources over multiple encounters" strategy D&D 4e relies on stops working properly (the need to eke out daily resources lessens, which brings to a lessened need for clever tactics, ultimately turning combat into mindless dicerolling).
...or I could have the players play more than one character each. Level 19 characters are full of options and sometimes players forget things their own character can do, let's not talk about characters they know nothing about. We also tried letting the veteran player who built most characters at the table to play two characters but it's still slow (and he keeps the spotlight for twice as long). The game slows down a lot and players start making bad choices or just complaining.
What can be done to lessen the detacticization problem without getting a slower game? Do you have any experience of, say, removing resources to absent PCs proportionally to those used by PCs involeved in combat, and did it work in the long run?