Tech Layoffs a Troubling Trend

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HP. RIM. Motorola Mobility. Yahoo. T-Mobile. Whew! Layoffs seem to be the word of the day among tech companies lately, with May an especially busy month. (Yahoo's announcement was in April.)


The Labor Department's May report issued Friday shows the unemployment rate back up to 8.2 percent for the overall economy, though for tech the story's a continuing trend: job losses in telecommunications as well as data processing, hosting and related services; increases in computer systems design and related services along with management and tech consulting services. Recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, points out how much lower the unemployment rates are for tech pros, though.


Yet all these layoffs are a troubling trend. (There are a number of others - Sony, Panasonic, NEC - that could affect U.S. workers, but it's hard to say. Then there's IBM, which continues to move work out of North America.)


Before HP announced plans to eliminate 27,000 positions worldwide - apparently only about 9,000 in the United States - outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said the layoffs would push tech-sector job cuts to its highest level in three years.


HP might be announcing still more cuts, according to Forbes contributor Susan Kalla, who calls U.S. tech workers the new autoworkers, whose salaries might stall as wages in other parts of the world catch up. That's a sobering thought. But with so many niche tech skills in such high demand, it's hard to imagine that will happen for those highly sought-after workers.

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