Tech Job Losses Slowing, but Totals Still Grim

High-tech companies cut 60% fewer jobs in the second quarter this year, but the 84,217 jobs cut during the first three months of 2009 puts tech-sector job loss totals at nearly 120,000 by midyear, according to workforce data released Monday.

View a slideshow of the most notable IT layoffs of 2009

According to global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, planned layoffs announced by employers in the computer, electronics and telecommunications industries totaled 33,891 in the second quarter ending June 30, 2009. The total is 60% less than some 84,000 positions eliminated in the first three months this year, which put 2009 midyear totals at 118,108. The total marks the highest number of tech-sector job cuts  announced since the fourth quarter of 2002. And this year's second quarter numbers were similar to job cut announcements made by tech sector companies in the second quarter of 2008, the firm reports.

Each high-tech sector experienced a significant drop in job cuts. For instance, telecom industry companies announced 18,972 job cuts in the first quarter and 1,876 in the second. Computer industry companies experienced a loss of 31,580 jobs in the first three months of 2009 and 19,881 in the following three months. And electronics firms cut 33,665 jobs in the first quarter and 12,134 positions were expected to be eliminated in the second quarter of 2009. The total number of jobs cut in the high-tech industries represents about 13% of the total first-half 2009 job cuts, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The second quarter results could be a sign of turnaround for the high-tech industry, said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a report.

"Telecom and electronics firms appear to be benefiting from a recession-defying wireless market. Computer firms may lag as companies wait for more proof of recovery before they begin to reignited investments in new technologies, but the end of the recession should bring a flood of new spending in this area," Challenger said. "Some firms may even begin to invest early, in the hopes the productivity-enhancing technology can temper the need to recruit new workers."

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