Tech hiring: The glass is half empty

Layoffs increased in 2Q this year and may head higher

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There are two ways analysts report hiring trends in the tech: Some focus on the half-empty, others on the half-full.

For the half-empty view, there is this new report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., which claims that layoffs in the computer, electronics and telecommunications industries are on the rise.

Specifically, Challenger, an outplacement firm that tracks layoff trends, said tech firms announced plans to cut nearly 20,500 jobs in the second quarter of this year, a 144% increase from the 8,392 jobs cuts in the first quarter.

As dramatic as the second quarter rise may appear, the combined first and second quarter job cuts are 44% fewer than the 51,500 layoffs recorded in the first half of last year. Hewlett-Packard and IBM are among the tech firms that have been laying off workers.

But even as the industry cuts, it also hires. U.S. Labor Department data points to gains in tech hiring, which account for about 10% of U.S. employment gains last month, according to two separate assessments of that data.

These broad labor reports don't capture the underlying turbulence in the tech labor market. For instance, demand for software developers is rising, but the need for electrical engineers has been falling for the past decade, making the job search all the much harder. The increase in hiring in the broader tech market doesn't necessarily help people getting laid off because of their age or particular skills.

Challenger collects its data from material that appears in the public domain, including company announcements, securities filings and news reports. It believes the layoffs will increase in the second half of this year, based on declining economic forecasts.

Forrester this week lowered its global tech market growth forecast to 2.3%, based on the continued recession in Europe and slowing growth in China. But Forrester says the U.S. will post one of the strongest growth rates at 5.9% this year, thanks to strong demand for new mobile, cloud and smart technologies. Forrester expects the U.S. tech market to grow 6.9% next year.

This article, Tech hiring: The glass is half empty, was originally published at

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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