The technology sector is on pace to lose 180,000 jobs this year, the most since 2003, amid a global economic downturn, according to a report published on Friday.
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc, a Chicago-based global consulting firm which tracks job-cut announcements, said telecommunications, electronics and computer industry companies had cut 140,422 jobs through Oct. 31.
It said 69,654 tech-sector jobs had been cut in the third quarter of the year alone. That did not include major layoffs announced since Oct. 31 such as the 5,000 to 6,000 job cuts at Sun Microsystems Inc on Friday.
“At the current pace, the year-end total could reach 180,000, which would be the largest annual total since 2003, when technology firms announced 228,325 job cuts,” the consulting firm said.
A total of 107,295 tech-sector jobs were cut last year.
“The tech sector is simply the latest victim in this downturn that began last year with the collapse of the housing market, and quickly spread to the financial markets,” chief executive John Challenger said in a statement.
“Businesses and consumers have slashed their spending and no industry is immune,” Challenger added.
The 180,000 job cuts in the tech sector would be the most since 2003, but would still be far fewer than the 695,581 jobs lost in 2001, with the bursting of the dot-com bubble.
On Friday, Sun Microsystems said it was cutting up to 6,000 jobs as the global economic crisis drives down demand for its computer servers.
Sun said it was cutting 15 to 18 percent of its global workforce, or 5,000 to 6,000 jobs, to “align its cost model with the global economic climate.”
A company spokeswoman said the majority of the layoffs, the second round of job cuts at the Santa Clara, California, firm since May, would be in the US.
The restructuring, which would involve charges of around US$500 million to US$600 million over the next 12 months, should result in savings of some US$700 million to US$800 million a year, the company said.
The job cuts at Sun Microsystems were the latest bout of bad news for the technology sector and came just two days after Intel Corp, the world’s largest maker of computer chips, cuts its fourth-quarter revenue projections.
Market intelligence firm IDC reported on Wednesday that worldwide spending on information technology is expected to grow just 2.6 percent next year because of the financial crisis, down from its pre-crisis forecast of 5.9 percent growth.