Government economists report that the high-tech industry is still losing jobs, but the loss
rate is slower than it was a year ago.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers today showing that Computer Systems
Design and Related Services, a category that encompasses a wide range of tech jobs, lost
3,900 jobs positions in April. And the same category is down 21,000 jobs from the same time
frame last year. That’s a 2-percent loss, leaving the total number employed in this sector
”It’s a decline… and every job is important,” says Laura Kelter, supervisory economist
with the Washington, D.C.-based Bureau of Labor Statistics. ”But that rate of decline has
slowed. Last September and October, 10,000 jobs were added and this March they added 3,000
more. It’s an improvement compared to what they’ve seen in the past.”
And the recent past has been grim for the tech industry, which took a heavy battering when
the dot-com bubble burst at the turn of the century. Once a job sector with hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, more jobs than there were trained people to fill them, sweeping
layoffs changed the face of the industry. Impressive expense accounts, million-dollar homes
and flashy cars were replaced with unemployment lines, retraining and repossessed
In 2002, the tech sector was losing an average of 20,000 jobs a month.
”The average losses this year, in comparison, are much better,” says Kelter. ”It’s
The telecom industry also is suffering, but not as badly as it has been.
April saw the loss of 1,700 telecom jobs. During the past year that industry has dropped
38,000 jobs to end up with 1,055,000 jobs today. That accounts for a 3 percent job loss.
”With telecom, last year in April it was losing more jobs,” says Kelter. ”The rate of
job losses has slowed. It’s still losing but it’s better.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps ISPs, data processing jobs and portals into one
category, which lost 600 jobs, or 2 percent, last month. Since April of 2003, the group has
lost 9,500 jobs to end up with a current total of 480,000 jobs.
“In these three industries,” adds Kelter, ”there hasn’t been a large turnaround yet, but
there is improvement.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that over non-farm payroll employment increased by
288,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was about unchanged at 5.6 percent. The April
increase in payroll employment follows a gain of 337,000 in March, and job growth again was
widespread. In April, employment rose substantially in several service-providing
industries, construction continued to add jobs, and there was a noteworthy job gain in
durable goods manufacturing.
The unemployment rate has been either 5.6 or 5.7 percent since last December.