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Businesses Communications Technology IT

Tech Jobs Took a Big Hit Last Year (fortune.com) 119

Barb Darrow, writing for Fortune: Tech jobs took it on the chin last year. Layoffs at computer, electronics, and telecommunications companies were up 21 percent to 96,017 jobs cut in 2016, compared to 79,315 the prior year. Tech layoffs accounted for 18 percent of the total 526,915 U.S. job cuts announced in 2016, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm based in Chicago. Of the 2016 total, some 66,821 of the layoffs came from computer companies, up 7% year over year. Challenger attributed much of that increase to cuts made by Dell Technologies, the entity formed by the $63 billion convergence of Dell and EMC. In preparation for that combination, layoffs were instituted across EMC and its constituent companies, including VMware.

Tech Jobs Took a Big Hit Last Year

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    We're about to fix that problem, PTL

    Time for these folks to go bye bye

    • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:31PM (#53882059) Homepage

      No, as the summary stated its mostly due to layoffs from large floundering companies... of course this is only about layoffs and doesn't take into account any new hiring which may or may not outpace the layoffs.

      • No, as the summary stated its mostly due to layoffs from large floundering companies... of course this is only about layoffs and doesn't take into account any new hiring which may or may not outpace the layoffs.

        While this report is rather one-sided, gut feeling tells me if the end result of hiring and firing was a net gain, we wouldn't be talking about this.

        At all.

        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          gut feeling tells me if the end result of hiring and firing was a net gain, we wouldn't be talking about this

          Your gut should tell you that if this was real news the reporter would state the net change, not layoffs without mentioning hires.

          In other words, article is total BS.

    • What does this have to do with H1B1s? If they get laid off they go back home and get hired there, the people this hurts are US workers.

      Even if you kick out every H1B1 do you really believe these companies will hire in the US or will they outsource to another country? You can only raise tariffs so far before they hurt the US more than the intended recipient.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    these mergers result in redundancies. HR, accounting, sales etc are not the same as tech jobs just because they are at technology firms.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Outsourcing and H1B.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thousands more job cuts are coming "as companies shift focus to cloud-based computing and smartphones," Challenger warned.

    Those folks who are canned won't be able to move over to the cloud and smartphone shit.

    And what sucks is that if you're not doing that on the job, taking classes or learning on your own means nothing. You have to have on the job experience to get a job.

    That's one of the things I really hate about this field. It's like no one thinks skills transfer.

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      And what sucks is that if you're not doing that on the job, taking classes or learning on your own means nothing. You have to have on the job experience to get a job.

      This is something that really pissed me off early in my career. It didn't matter how much I learned/tinkered/grew on my own. My knowledge and ability was basically irrelevant unless I could qualify it by related job experience. This was even more frustrating at the time, because I had a stable job I didn't want to leave, but which wasn't giving me that "qualified" experience necessary to get the job I actually wanted.

      • ...that's where side projects come in.

        If it weren't for doing little side projects that involved the new skills/goodies, I'd still be an AIX sysadmin*. Ugh.

        Go find something that needs done (but no one is really doing) in the company using those fancy new/cool/marketable skills, then go do it in your spare cycles, learning as you go.

        * Funny thing, I became the sysadmin because I had a known habit of side-projects that required using the computer systems. That's how I got into this biz 22+ years ago (the pre

        • by Octorian ( 14086 )

          Um... side projects aren't "jobs to qualify experience" when talking to HR.

          For the right kind of company, they can certainly help. Especially if its a small company and/or startup that looks at you as an individual, not just as a name in a stack of resumes. But for the normal way you go through "the process" earlier in your career? I wish someone would have noticed.

          • AIX and "startup" do not mix well.

          • Um... side projects aren't "jobs to qualify experience" when talking to HR.

            Sure it does - your resume can specifically state "I also implemented $buzzword as an early adopter to provide $somethingOfGoodValue to the company." It gives you the provable experience you can point to.

      • by tbuskey ( 135499 )

        And what sucks is that if you're not doing that on the job, taking classes or learning on your own means nothing. You have to have on the job experience to get a job.

        This is something that really pissed me off early in my career. It didn't matter how much I learned/tinkered/grew on my own. My knowledge and ability was basically irrelevant unless I could qualify it by related job experience. This was even more frustrating at the time, because I had a stable job I didn't want to leave, but which wasn't giving me that "qualified" experience necessary to get the job I actually wanted.

        I've always learned at home as well as at work. The key is to be able to get noticed so you can sell your non-job experience to your future employer. You also need to apply to places that value new skills.

        If you want to keep learning, why are you trying to work at a company that doesn't value that?

  • Leading Indicator (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:11PM (#53881943) Homepage
    The economy cycles every 8-10 years. We're 9 years into a growth phase, it's only natural another recession is coming. Tech workers are a good early indicator. Outside of companies that sell tech, IT is just an expense. An expense that's the last to get hired in good times and the first to get cut in tough times. I in many areas corporate controllers are starting to tighten the check book - frozen hiring in some jobs, halted projects and consolidation are happening. Some industries were waiting for the election to strategic plan the next 36 months. They have it now and are belt tightening. Tech survived before and it will always survive. Be conservative with money and plan for a rainy day. It's the prudent life strategy.
    • Re:Leading Indicator (Score:5, Interesting)

      by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:21PM (#53881997) Homepage
      We're overdue for a recession. However, I don't think Wall Street got the memo yet. Bonds are oversold as everyone and their mother jumped into the stock market. When the bandwagon drives past you, that's when you make a U-turn in the market. I've been buying up oversold bond funds since the election. Looking forward to buying stock shares on the way down after the market crashes.
      • We're overdue for a recession.

        Incorrect - we've been HAVING the recession for years. We are now entering an expansion phase. Everyone else knows this (especially the markets), why do you not understand this?

        When the tax rate drops hit you are going to see an unprecedented growth spree from businesses that have been choking on the U.S. largest corporate tax rate for the last decade or so.

        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          Incorrect - we've been HAVING the recession for years.

          The recession ended in 2009. That's when I lost my job, was out of work for two years (2009-10), underemployed for six months (working 20 hours per month, and filing for Chapter Seven bankruptcy. Today I'm back to where I was financially ten years ago before the economy tanked.

          We are now entering an expansion phase.

          It's the exuberance phase before the crash. When money suddenly comes off the sidelines to flood the market while the underlying data indicates a downturn, it's a blinking red light that signals, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

          Everyone else knows this (especially the markets), why do you not understand this?

          Becau

        • Agreed. They just soften it so the public does not panic. SuperKendall you got it right!
        • We're overdue for a recession.

          Incorrect - we've been HAVING the recession for years. We are now entering an expansion phase. Everyone else knows this (especially the markets), why do you not understand this?

          When the tax rate drops hit you are going to see an unprecedented growth spree from businesses that have been choking on the U.S. largest corporate tax rate for the last decade or so.

          Err no, the recession ended in 2009. There was a small dip in 2013, and then it bounced back. Salaries have gone up and hiring has also gone up. I've been tracking this shit for years (since my first bubble-burst layoff in 2000.) I'd say there are big cycles of 8-10 years that interlace with smaller 4-5 year cycles.

          We could be hitting a dip again at the end of 2017 (if we use 2009 as the start of this cycle), or 2019-2020 (if we assume 2013 reset the chronometers for a big cycle, or as as start of a mini

          • Err no, the recession ended in 2009.

            Err, no;it did not really end in 2009 [forbes.com].

            If the recession had really ended Trump would not have won. Trump won because he was willing to call out everyone on bullshit, including the absolute mountain of bullshit that is the claim the recession "ended" in 2009...

            Either way, anyone worth a shit in this industry banks on a dip cycle ever 4-5 years and 3-6 months of unemployment every 8-10 years, and plans accordingly.

            You should really have funds for a year off at all times, bu

            • by creimer ( 824291 )

              If the recession had really ended Trump would not have won.

              Never mind the FBI reopening and closing the investigation into Hillary while sitting on evidence that the Trump campaign was in bed with the Russians just before the election.

              Trump won because he was willing to call out everyone on bullshit [...]

              The same Trump who struggles like a baby when people calls him on his own bullshit?

              [...] including the absolute mountain of bullshit that is the claim the recession "ended" in 2009.

              You mean the 96 million Americans who are out of work because they are too young or too old to work? I haven't seen any executive orders that repealed the child labor and retirement laws to put everyone back into the coal mines.

              • sitting on evidence that the Trump campaign was in bed with the Russians

                Ahh, Russians - the modern Goodwin law comes into effect.

                It's funny you liberal simpletons have such a problem with Trump communicating with Russians - do you even understand how diplomacy is done? It involves talking to foreign governments.... DUH.

                Couldn't find our message complaining about Obama telling Putin he would have more flexibility after the election [snopes.com]... No "Red" flags there (har har!), no sir!

                I'll let you have the last word s

                • by creimer ( 824291 )

                  It's funny you liberal simpletons have such a problem with Trump communicating with Russians [...]

                  I'm a moderate conservative. I don't support Trump.

                  [...] do you even understand how diplomacy is done?

                  Do you understand that it's illegal for private citizens to represent themselves as the U.S. government when talking to a foreign power?

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan_Act [wikipedia.org]

      • What will you do when/if inflation kicks in, and interest rates jump?
        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          What will you do when/if inflation kicks in, and interest rates jump?

          Reassess, readjust and buy for the long term.

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        We're overdue for a recession. However, I don't think Wall Street got the memo yet.

        Dow Jones != GDP

        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          Dow Jones != GDP

          Your point is meaningless when everyone's retirement account is invested in the stock market. What goes up must come down. As people found out in 2009, the value of retirement accounts can easily drop 50% in a stock market crash.

          • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

            Your point is meaningless when everyone's retirement account is invested in the stock market. What goes up must come down. As people found out in 2009, the value of retirement accounts can easily drop 50% in a stock market crash.

            Your point is meaningless when you consider the amount of retirement savings the average American has [time.com]. Translation: Dow Jones matters to you not the majority of Americans. Majority of Americans are primarily concerned with GDP and actual economic opportunity. You're probably well educated in an in demand field. It's not surprising why you would be out of touch with reality. I am also well educated in an in demand field but I actually keep in touch with reality. You should try it some time. At a minim

            • by creimer ( 824291 )

              Translation: Dow Jones matters to you not the majority of Americans.

              Did you bother to read your own link: one in three have zero in retirement savings. Let's look at the infographic since your math skills are deficient.

              http://cdn.gobankingrates.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/main_overall.jpg [gobankingrates.com]

              One-third (1/3 or one in three) have zero retirement savings. Two-thirds (2/3 or two in three) have retirement savings that ranges from between $1 to $300K+. Translation: a majority of Americans have retirement savings and those retirement savings are likely invested in the stock marke

    • Re:Leading Indicator (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @05:40PM (#53882469)

      The problem is that since the 1990s, everyone feels the crash. Only a few see the recovery. When the economy tanked in 2000, for a lot of the US, it stayed tanked because the manufacturing jobs and steel mills went overseas. In 2008 when we had the economy crash, tech sector jobs have improved, but in reality, for most other sectors, there has not been that much, if any improvement. If other sectors see it, it is spillover from the tech sector (new BMWs, housing going up), or from other countries buying up land in the US.

      I would say the economy peaked last summer, when in June and early July, there were hundreds of DevOps job postings for the local area I am in (Austin, TX). In six weeks, the number of those was reduced by over 90%.

      We do have a few bubbles that may pop. First, the only thing that VCs are spending a dime on are companies that either push ads, suck data (analytics), or both. Even cloud computing hit a zenith in the past year where HP left the cloud market, and Rackspace got bought out. The uncertainty about the elections has also shaken people, and that might just have been enough to start an economic slide. To boot, OPEC is back with a vengence, and oil is climbing, which is also a drag on the economy.

      Then, there is the final nail in the coffin. The Fed waiting to raise interest rates.

      I'm seeing an across the board belt tightening. Public places have hiring freezes. Private companies are looking at technologies like Amazon Lambda [1], serverless technologies, and wholesale, "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" moves to AWS. AWS may be more expensive, but in a lot of PHB's heads, even if it costs more, reducing headcount is more important, because of the immediate cost savings.

      I think as uncertainty goes on and it goes to outright unrest, the economy is going to not fare well. Especially with so many people disliking the current administration and are willing to monkeywrench to see that it doesn't do well.

      [1]: The main attraction for Amazon Lambda is that companies can fire their OS, DBAs, and hardware guys, and just have someone doing IAM as the "IT department" with devs doing everything else.

      • I would say the economy peaked last summer, when in June and early July, there were hundreds of DevOps job postings for the local area I am in (Austin, TX). In six weeks, the number of those was reduced by over 90%.

        Minor point of order: The term is overused, and passe'. Christ sakes, every sysadmin I know in Portland quickly ran to LinkedIn and tacked the word "DevOps" to his resume last year, even if they never professionally touched any of the common tools or processes involved with the job. Doesn't matter though: Everyone and his dog knows how to run/use Puppet** these days, and thanks to the Forge [puppet.com] and hiera, you don't even have to really know how to write a module these days (unless you need to do something unique

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      The economy cycles every 8-10 years. We're 9 years into a growth phase.

      No, it really doesn't. 2000-2013 were like the 70s: one economic cycle moving sideways, with minimal growth. We're about 3 years out of the "great recession", just getting comfortable with the growth phase. People are buying durable goods that they were putting off before out of fear. It will be a few more years before we see the start of real tech sector growth ("social" bubble nonwithstanding)..

      Outside of companies that sell tech, IT is just an expense.

      "IT" is the new buggy whip manufacturer. It's not so much cyclic any more as fading, as much of "IT" moves

    • I think this last 9 years of "growth" has some major differences with the past. Interest rates are still low which maybe encourages jumping into the stock market. There hasn't been much change in productivity, earnings, or salaries though so it doesn't seem like anything grew except the stock prices. Isn't that odd? I think when the Fed put the banks on life support they just delayed the crash. We've been limping along for 9 years during the slowest recovery ever, and I think maybe it's because we didn't le
      • Yes, which is why so many prepers are stocking beans, rice and bullets. The fed has been artificially keeping the economy alive with unrealistically low interest rates and silly QE-# programs. So many jobs have been shoved overseas there's not much room left to work outside of tech, medical and fast food. (programmers, nurses and minimum wage) .
        That's where the robot prognosticators fail - it's working people that buy all the crap made by the rich. Throw enough workers out of jobs via automation and t
        • I don't know if it's all that bleak. I think after a correction we could rebound, and automation will be a part of the rebound. People are scraping by because wages aren't going up. Wages aren't going up because productivity hasn't gone up. Productivity hasn't gone up because we're outsourcing jobs instead of investing in needed infrastructure e.g. automation and modern equipment and factories in the US. Pres. Trump has a shot to fix some of these issues if he can get anything through congress.
    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      The economy cycles every 8-10 years. We're 9 years into a growth phase, it's only natural another recession is coming.

      That doesn't seem right. Look at the historical record this century: http://www.macrotrends.net/131... [macrotrends.net]

      Recessions have been in 1920, 1923, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1970, 1974, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008. That's an average of one recession every 5 years, usually plus/minus 2 years.

      If you limit your view of the economy to just the last three recessions, then you do indeed get an average of one every 9 years plus or minus 3 years. But then you'll need to tell us why you think the last t

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      The economy cycles every 8-10 years. We're 9 years into a growth phase, it's only natural another recession is coming.

      Are you completely insane? We're talking about the United States here. In case you didn't know we've been going through a LONG economic BUST owing to The Great Recession. We are just now starting to see the job creation come back [gallup.com]. I'm hoping we're about to hit a BOOM for a few years. Do you even understand Boom Bust economic cycles [wikipedia.org]? There is a certain line that we have to cross bef

  • Where I am, Austin, recruiters are saying it's a candidate's market.
    • It is *always* a good candidate's market.

      It is sometimes an *average* candidate's market.

      It is rarely a *poor* candidate's market.

      The recruiters are being kind, or perhaps avoiding the truth.

      • It is *always* a good candidate's market.

        You're giving hiring authorities too much credit, assuming that they can tell good candidates from bad ones. They look at: a) where you went to college and b) the reputation of the companies that you've worked for in the past. Beyond that, they'll bring you in for a couple of string-reversal-on-the-white-board brainteasers.

    • Re:oddly (Score:4, Informative)

      by Altus ( 1034 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:38PM (#53882107) Homepage

      Same in Boston. I had 3 job offers when I was looking back in October and got a very significant raise from my previous position. I remember 2002, this is not a rough job market at all.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:18PM (#53881983)

    One of the things mentioned is the jobs lost to mergers. When two big companies join up, generally one IT department wins and the other gets thrown in the trash. Dell is in Texas and EMC was in Massachusetts -- I wouldn't be surprised if they just emptied out EMC's offices in one day and sent maybe 2 or 3% of them to Austin. Big companies are the source of a lot of good-paying, middle and upper middle class jobs, and they tend to acquire a lot of people over time. It's inevitable that big clean-outs happen every few years or so. Another huge one the article didn't mention is the HP and HPE demerger, then split-sale of EDS to CSC. That must have been an absolute bloodbath, because I know people who work for the former EDS, HP Services and CSC. All of them are absolutely packed with layers and layers of project managers, account executives, etc. that can hang on for years because customers pay for them. The problem is that big companies have gotten so big that these mass-firings affect an entire industry. What happens when 30,000 people are competing for the same 100 jobs in an area, for example?

    And yes, the other thing is the cloud. This one drives me nuts as a systems engineering guy, because the reality is that the cloud just shifts the same issues around in many cases. Your IT guys are not suddenly useless dinosaurs, as some DevOps consultants would have you believe. You still need people with a good grounding in the fundamentals of computing even if you completely rebuild your apps to be RESTful, microservice-y and fully buzzword compliant. Even with access to "infinite" computing resources, you have to deal with new problems like accounting for downtime you can't control, dealing with network latency, huge bills for using services you don't need, and integrating old-world applications with new stuff. The problem is this -- we have tons of people in the systems world who could easily be trained on this stuff. Shifting your focus from managing systems to automating stuff is a big shift, but it's doable; I'm working on it right now. What I'd like to see is the cloud providers work on bringing the IT side of the house into the tent, not just the developers. Microsoft's been doing an OK job with Azure, but they could improve and write documentation that doesn't assume decades of software dev experience. AWS is almost completely focused on developers. I'd write a book, but it would be out of date before it was published. Maybe I should start a video series or something...

    • . This one drives me nuts as a systems engineering guy, because the reality is that the cloud just shifts the same issues around in many cases. Your IT guys are not suddenly useless dinosaurs

      This one is easy for you to solve: get a book about AWS, call yourself DevOPs, and suddenly with your skills and experience people will think you are a genius. Recruiters will be falling all over themselves to hire you.

      Putting operations in the cloud doesn't mean 'magic.' A lot of it doesn't even change. You still have to engineer for HA, you still need plans for what happens when a server fails, you need to plan for what happens when a data center fails. The main difference is that requisitioning a new

      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        The ironic thing is that when I interviewed at one place last summer, the CTO personally started asking me questions. When I asked them about their disaster recovery plan, as the company was 100% AWS based, the reply from the CTO was, "Asking a cloud based company about 'backups' or 'uptime' is like asking a Tesla owner about the type of buggy whip they use."

        Needless to say I decided to look elsewhere for work.

    • Do you actually trust you stuff with the cloud??
  • What's the net? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @04:22PM (#53882001) Journal

    This is like saying I spent $30,000 last year, so my finances took a big hit. I actually had income, so you know... my debts were paid down, savings were built, and I spent $30,000.

    The U.S. Technology Industry surpassed 6.5 million employees in 2014, and 6.7 million in 2015. TFA and TFS say there were 79,000 tech jobs cut in 2015, but there were 200,000 more jobs at the end of 2015 than there were at the end of 2014. Now TFA and TFS say there were 96,000 tech jobs cut in 2016, so I guess we're looking at a job growth of 243,000 in the sector?

    • I'd add that you need to know the loss, the growth, and the churn rate (the average duration of a position's existence).

      A small number of jobs appearing and disappearing every year isn't as bad as ALL jobs only lasting a few years, unless you keep finding yourself getting those self-destructing positions of course.

  • I was totally distracted from the topic by the name of the outplacement firm "Challenger, Gray & Christmas". As in (shuttle) Challenger, (Fifty Shades of) Gray, and (Merry) Christmas.

    It's like being a super-villain named Casanova Frankenstein.
  • Better hire some H-1B visas! Americans are lazy and won't get trained in STEM!
  • Canada, although with higher unemployment overall, is trending up. +8.6% in natural & applied sciences and related (category including software developers) http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/l... [gov.on.ca] See codes http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imd... [statcan.gc.ca] Alberta and Quebec are doing better lately. There are wide variations by provinces. http://www.etalentcanada.ca/pr... [etalentcanada.ca]

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