Announced job cuts in the technology sector soared 60 percent in the third quarter to 54,701, the highest figure since the fourth quarter of 2003 (82,328).
The leading factor behind the increase was a dramatic 127 percent surge in the number of job cuts among computer-related firms, according to the quarterly report on high-tech job cuts released Monday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm.
Computer-related companies announced 30,624 job cuts in the third quarter, 56 percent of the 54,701 cuts in the technology sector, which includes computer, electronics, telecommunications, e-commerce, and IT service vendors.
Third-quarter technology cuts were up 60 percent from 34,213 job cuts in the previous quarter and were 14 percent higher than the 47,998 job cuts announced by the tech sector in the third quarter a year ago.
So far this year, high-tech firms have announced 118,427 job cuts, which account for 16 percent of the 724,320 announced job cuts from public and private companies in all industries through September 30.
Job cut numbers reflect announced and planned workforce reductions. This is different from the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment figures, which track all unemployed persons in the U.S.
The percentage of high-tech cuts has increased since the second quarter when they represented 13.5 percent of all job cuts.
The Challenger report shows that in addition to the increase in computer-industry job cuts, employers in telecom, electronics and e-commerce also boosted downsizing activity during the quarter.