Tech job market improves with fewer layoffs in 2015: report

The technology sector’s growing sturdiness helped produce a big decline in the number of job cuts for the industry last year, according to a new report by employment sector researcher Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Technology industry employers announced a total of 79,315 job cuts during 2015. That’s down 21.3 percent from the 100,757 tech job cuts announced in 2014, Challenger, Gray reported.

“The great strength of the tech industry is the reason this is happening,” said James Pedderson, a spokesman for Chicago-based Challenger, Gray.

Tech companies experienced a decrease in job cuts at the same time that all U.S. industries suffered a rise in announced employment cutbacks. All industries announced 598,510 job cuts during 2015, which was up 23.9 percent from the 483,171 in reductions announced during 2014.

The technology industry accounted for just 13.3 percent of the total number of job cuts announced by all U.S. industries during 2015. That’s down from the tech sector’s share of 20.9 percent of all announced employment reductions in 2014, an analysis of the report shows.

All of this doesn’t mean that Silicon Valley can avoid the boom-bust cycle that has pervaded the industry for decades since it came into existence.

“The very nature of technology means there were always be a lot of churn and volatility,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  “Dot.coms come and go as quickly as popular musical artists.”

Companies such as Mountain View-based Google and Cupertino-based Apple have been busy hiring workers and adding large blocks of office space or land to their holdings in a quest to accommodate the respective employment expansions they anticipate for the future.

Yet plenty of staff reductions hammered the tech industry and Silicon Valley during 2015.

Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard announced it intended to jettison 25,000 to 30,000 workers worldwide.

According to official filings with state officials, called WARN notices: San Jose-based Cisco Systems has laid off about 250 workers in the South Bay; KLA-Tencor has cut roughly 210 jobs in Milpitas; San Jose-based Maxim Integrated Products cut 160 jobs.

Separately, Microsoft announced 7,800 job cuts, primarily linked to its Nokia unit and Sunnyvale-based NetApp said it would cut 500 jobs.

“The need to remain on the cutting edge means that tech companies are constantly shifting resources,” Challenger said.

Illustration: Doug Griswold/Mercury News


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