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Techies suffer as US unemployment inches up

More job cuts than expected - again

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The US Department of Labor this morning said that companies in the States chopped 263,000 employees from the payroll in September, nudging up the unemployment rate to 9.8 per cent.

This is larger than the expected 180,000 job cuts that economists had been kicking around, which probably means Wall Street is in for another bad hair day today. This is the second month in a row that the cuts were deeper than the prognosticators expected - maybe it is time to polish that crystal ball a little.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its job cut figures for the two prior months, as often happens, saying that 304,000 jobs were cut in July (up from 276,000 originally reported), but that there were few cuts in August at 201,000 (compared to the 216,000 reported a month ago).

The recession in the US began in December 2007, and since that time the number of unemployed people has doubled to 15.1 million workers. The expectation is that the unemployment rate will soon break ten per cent and may stay there for years unless the US economy improves enough for employers to feel confident about hiring again.

The IT sector took its share of the hits, as it has done since the recession started. In September, computer and electronics products makers shed 10,600 jobs, to an employee pool just over 1.1 million workers. Computer and peripheral equipment makers let go 1,500 workers within this larger grouping, communications equipment makers cut 400 jobs, and semiconductor and component makers in the States axed 2,500 employees.

Telecommunications companies cut 5,800 jobs, to 971,300, and data processing and hosting companies cut 300 jobs, to 255,400.

The base of workers at companies dedicated to computer systems design and related services fell by 10,800, to an aggregate employment base of 1.46 million people. Companies engaged in management and technical consulting services firms (obviously not restricted just to IT companies, but the BLS doesn't offer fine-grained data, so we do what we can) cut their payrolls by 2,000, to 1.18 million workers.

You can see the full report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics here (pdf). ®

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