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Telecom layoffs lead tech sector job losses, study says

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Chicago--Telecommunications job cuts accounted for almost one in every four of the 735,527 layoffs announced in the first half of the year, according to a study released Monday by international executive search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The company's midyear review of the tech sector said the 165,840 telecom jobs cut in the first half of this year represented an increase of 27% from the 130,442 job cuts announced in the year-earlier period. If cuts continue at the same pace, the total for the year will exceed the record 317,777 layoffs announced last year.

While telecommunications job cuts are on the rise, layoffs in other technology-related industries have declined, compared with 2001. The biggest decline has been among e-commerce companies, down 96% to 1,741 from 49,593 in the first half of 2001.

Overall, technology-related layoffs fell 23% in the first half of the year, to 243,200 from 313,939. Still, John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, cautioned against hope for a recovery in the tech sector anytime soon.

"Even with overall job cuts falling from the record pace of 2001, telecommunications continues to surprise us month after month with significant job-cut numbers," he said. "The fact that telecom downsizing is on track to beat last year's total really tells where this industry is headed."

--Matthew Schwartz

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