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IT Loses Jobs in April but Rate of Decline Ebbs

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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

at 1,120,000.

”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.

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