Feeds

IT feels the pain as US loses 651,000 jobs in February

Previous months' figures revised, again

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The monthly jolt of bad news coming out of the US Department of Labor hit this morning, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that employers cut 651,000 jobs in February. Those cuts, which do not include farm workers, pushed the unemployment rate in the United States up to 8.1 per cent from 7.6 per cent in January.

Much is being made in the general business press that this is the highest unemployment rate in the States since December 1983. That unemployment rate for February was a bit higher than expected - two-tenths of a per cent, to be precise - and no one is willing to guess when the jobletting is going to ease up, much less stop.

When it does ease up, people will start talking about the economy recovering again. If you drill down into the bureau's report, you will see that the job cuts in January were revised upwards to 655,000 jobs (it was reported to be 598,000 jobs in early February), and December 2008's cuts were revised as well, up to a staggering 681,000 from the already-revised 577,000 cuts. If you do the math, with all of the changes and updates, since the recession began in the US in December 2007, the country has shed more than 4.4 million jobs, with 2.6 million of the cuts coming in the past four months.

The job cuts are biting all industries, but some were being hit harder than others in February. The professional and business services sector shed 180,000 jobs, manufacturers let go 168,000 people, and the construction industry lost 104,000.

For the first time since last fall, when I began watching the monthly report for El Reg, the IT-related sectors of the economy are being hit by layoffs, which was to be expected given all the layoff announcements we have seen in the past several months. Computer and electronic component manufacturers lost 13,100 jobs, with computer and peripheral equipment makers losing 3,100 and communications equipment makers shedding 200.

Semiconductor and electronic component makers lost 6,600 jobs, and electronic instrument makers laid off 2,000. According to the BLS jobs report (pdf), telecommunications companies fired 7,300 people and companies in the data processing, hosting and related services sector fired 2,000 in February. Companies engaged in computer systems design and related services lost 300 jobs.

As I have pointed out, these statistics do not give a true representation of IT job cuts, since they aggregate jobs and layoffs by industry and IT jobs span all industries. While the IT vendor community in the United States is important, it is not necessarily any kind of indicator for what is happening in data centers and cubicles.

What the BLS really needs to do is count jobs and layoffs by job title as well as by industry, so we know what kinds of jobs are being lost. This helps people figure out what kinds of jobs to train for as they move around the economy and try to react to current conditions. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.