Tech workforce pinched by economy, feeling like 2003

That economic doom-and-gloom has finally hit the tech sector and it looks like job cuts in the electronics, telecom and computer industries could be flirting with numbers they haven't seen in years.According to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks daily job cut announcements in those industries, the technology sector is on track to lose 180,000 jobs by the end of the year.

That economic doom-and-gloom has finally hit the tech sector and it looks like job cuts in the electronics, telecom and computer industries could be flirting with numbers they haven't seen in years.

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According to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks daily job cut announcements in those industries, the technology sector is on track to lose 180,000 jobs by the end of the year. (PDF) In 2003, tech firms announced more than 228,000 job cuts. (Chart to left is year-by-year job cut announcements in the tech sector. Click to enlarge.)

This year, the industries have collectively announced more than 140,000 job cuts through October 31, a 31 percent increase over the 107,000 announced in all of 2007. In the third quarter of 2008, the industries said they would eliminate more than 82,000 job, outpacing the almost 51,000 announced during the first half of 2008.

And, since the beginning of the fourth quarter, almost 20,000 more job cuts have been announced, not including the estimated 5,000-6,000 announced by Sun Microsystems this morning. John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement:

In addition to Sun Microsystems’ announcement, Applied Materials and National Semiconductor have announced job cuts in November. By the end of the year, we may also see cuts from Cisco Systems, Qualcomm and Nokia, all of whom are reporting falling sales amid the weakening economy. The tech sector is simply the latest victim in this downturn that began last year with the collapse of the housing market, and quickly spread to the financial markets. Since then, the impact has rippled throughout the economy and job cuts have surged in several industries, including retail, transportation, media, entertainment and leisure, automotive and even health care. Businesses and consumers have slashed their spending and no industry is immune.

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