Job Loss Hits High-tech

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As more companies report layoffs, demand for high-tech professionals is beginning to slide downward, according to statistics released this week.

See a slideshow of the biggest layoffs of 2009.

Global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Wednesday released job cut totals for January, which prove the year-end trend to slash positions as a cost-cutting measure will continue into 2009. According to the firm, the number of planned job losses announced in January reached 241,749, which represents a 45% increase over December 2008 totals and 222% higher than the 74,986 cuts announced at the beginning of 2008. Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the January totals represent the second largest announced losses in January, behind 2002 numbers, and the fourth largest job-cut month since the firm began tracking the numbers in 1993.

While January historically represents the largest job-cut month behind October, Challenger executives don't expect numbers to improve anytime soon. And even industries that seemed to be withstanding the downturn better than others are starting to succumb to the economic malaise.

"Industries that at first appeared to be immune to downturns, such as computer and pharmaceutical, are now rapidly shedding workers," said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement.

For instance, the computer industry announced in January planned job cuts of 22,330 and companies in the aerospace and defense industry added 17,800 planned cuts for January 2009. The telecom industry last month announced 13,056 planned cuts and electronics companies reported that they planned to eliminate 11,050 positions, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas statistics.

"Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Even if the stimulus package is successful, it could take months to make a noticeable impact on the employment picture," Challenger said.

Separately, career search site reported this week that demand for jobs in the IT industry is starting to decline. According to the site's Fourth Quarter 2008 Career Trend Analysis and Outlook Reports, jobs in the IT industry fell from the top three slots and experienced the largest decrease in jobs over the previous quarter (3.5%) and over the past year (4.7%) since the started publishing the report in 2005. With some 80,840 jobs posted and 888,151 active resumes on the site last quarter, speculates that the "bubble may have burst again for the technology sector" as the economy takes its toll on available IT positions.

"As the year [2008] progressed and the economy weakened, IT spending and development slowed along with the funding of new technology companies, affecting the demand for IT jobs," reported.

This story, "Job Loss Hits High-tech" was originally published by Network World.

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