Telecomms industry hit hard in '02 by job cuts

The high-tech sector, which includes the telecommunications, computer, electronics and e-commerce industries, posted 468,161 job cuts in 2002, down 33% from the cuts announced in 2001.

          The high-tech sector, which includes the telecommunications, computer, electronics and e-commerce industries, posted 468,161 job cuts in 2002, down 33% from the 695,581 cuts announced in 2001, according to Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

          After falling to 91,450 cuts in the third quarter of the year, technology sector job cuts surged to 133,511 in the fourth quarter -- the highest quarterly figure for the entire year, Challenger says.

          Job cuts in the high-tech industry represented 32% of the 1,466,823 job cuts posted for all of 2002. That percentage is down slightly from the year before, when the high-tech industry represented 36% of the 1,956,876 job cuts.

          Challenger says the telecommunications industry struggled the most in 2002, posting 268,857 job cuts, or 57% of all high-tech cuts. The computer industry posted 131,294 cuts, while the electronics sector announced 63,514 cuts and e-commerce weighed in with 4,496.

          In 2001, the telecom industry announced 317,777 job cuts, or 46% of high-tech cuts.

          And, according to Challenger, things aren't going to get much better for the struggling telecom industry.

          "Telecommunications and the other high-tech industries will probably continue having troubles in 2003, which does not bode well for the workers who have managed to keep their jobs," Challenger says. "The biggest problem the sector is facing is the lack of new technology spending on the part of business."

          According to Challenger, IT and capital spending aren't expected to rebound this year.

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