Tech Job Cuts Low, Hiring Strong

Susan Hall
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Though the November layoff news in the tech sector was pretty unsettling, tech job cuts in 2011 actually were at their lowest level in 15 years, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. That's how long it's been keeping track.


Announced tech job cuts totaled 37,038 in 2011, a decline of 21 percent from 46,825 in 2010, and a 79 percent improvement from the 174,629 recorded in 2009, Jobmouse reports. Most came from computer companies, which announced 3,178 job cuts in the first half of 2011 and 11,499 in the second half. Of course, many companies don't announce their layoffs, so those numbers aren't hard and fast.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics put the tech unemployment rate at 3.7 percent, down from 5.3 percent in 2010. From its Current Population Survey data, it discerned that 83,000 IT jobs were created in 2011.


Meanwhile, there is good news about the strength of tech hiring:


  • Corporate real estate firm Cresa says that although New York City lost an estimated 10,000 jobs in financial services, the technology and media industries have added 20,000 jobs in the past five years with the likes of Google and Facebook setting up shop there.
  • Restructurings at AT&T, Tellabs, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions brought a five-fold jump in job cuts in the Chicago area, according to the Sun-Times, but combined, tech, scientific and professional companies created 3,559 jobs in the first nine months of 2011, 40 percent of the 8,894 jobs cut overall. And Dunn and Bradstreet information indicates another 244 businesses moved into Illinois, creating an additional 6,883 jobs.
  • The Nashville Technology Council reported that middle Tennessee outperformed the rest of the state in tech positions advertised in 2011. The number of positions (1,161) grew by 24 percent over the previous year. Health care systems, including Vanderbilt University, were among the biggest employers.
  • Microsoft added 1,147 employees in the United States last year and a net total of 2,900 globally. GeekWire notes that about 800 of those were part of Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Luxembourg-based Skype. Its hiring rose by 6 percent globally and 2 percent domestically to a total work force of 92,000 as of Oct. 31. It's an example, as pointed out in a recent report by the National Science Board, of multinational companies creating jobs abroad more rapidly than at home. Still, Microsoft was hiring at a more modest pace than Google and Facebook. Google hiring grew 33 percent in 2011, to more than 32,000 people. At the end of the third quarter, Amazon's payroll was 51,300, up 64 percent from that point a year earlier. The article doesn't break out how much of that for either was domestic hiring, though.


Gartner has lowered its projection for 2012 IT spending to growth of 3.7 percent worldwide, down from an earlier forecast of 4.6 percent. It's expecting IT budgets to be flat or even decline in North America. And though John Challenger, CEO of Challenger Gray & Christmas, warns that a slowdown in tech spending could dampen IT hiring plans, he still sees its growth potential as strong.

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