After weeks of layoff announcements in the tech sector, the tally is in: Tech firms laid off a staggering 84,217 employees last quarter, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Layoffs were up 27 percent over the fourth quarter of 2008 and up 485 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2008. In total, the tech sector accounted for 14.6 percent of the layoffs announced during the first quarter, up from 12.7 percent of all announced layoffs in 2008.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas splits the tech sector into three broad categories: telecom, computer and electronics. The telecom sector actually saw a small drop in the number of layoffs compared to last quarter. Computer (which would include a company like Yahoo) and electronics saw big jumps. Not surprisingly, Challenger, Gray & Christmas doesn’t expect things to get much better anytime soon, citing a recent Forrester Research study which shows that IT spending will drop 3.1 percent this year. And as tech firms begin to take advantage of the downturn to purchase competitors, layoffs will only increase, the firm says. Indeed, only a small fraction of the job cuts announced so far this year were due to mergers or acquisitions.
The consolation: Tech-sector job cuts still aren’t as bad as they were during the dot-com bust.