IBM's workforce in U.S. declines in '08 but grows overseas

Company's overall workforce increased slightly last year

The number of workers that IBM employs in the U.S. declined by about 5% last year, but the company's overall head count is increasing because of overseas hiring.

IBM finished 2008 with 115,000 U.S. employees, down from the 121,000 it reported at the end of 2007, according to its most recent annual report released this month. Overall, IBM finished 2008 with 398,455 employees worldwide, an increase of nearly 12,000, or about 3%.

In 2007, IBM said it had 98,000 employees in Brazil, China, India and Russia, but that number increased by 15% to 113,000 last year. Most of those employees are in India.

IBM continues to cite the U.S. as the country with its largest workforce, but it is not providing a breakout of head count for India, which may well be the second-largest country for employment. In 2007, IBM said it had 74,000 workers in India.

IBM's head count could change substantially if it buys Sun Microsystems Inc. or another company this year.

Sun employed 34,900 worldwide last year, but recently announced reductions of as many as 6,000 employees. Both companies are reportedly in merger talks. The two companies have neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

IBM recently instituted a program for employees in the U.S. to take jobs overseas, but if they choose to go, these employees would be paid at local rates, not at U.S. wage levels.

IBM has had about 4,000 layoffs in the U.S. this year, according to the union Alliance at IBM.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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