Tech layoffs in 2009 hit a 4-year high

A recent report says tech job losses in 2009 were at their highest in four years.

Some disheartening, yet not surprising, news from a recently released report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.:

  • Tech sector employers announced 174,629 job cuts in 2009, the highest total since 2005.
  • The total tech cuts comprised 13.2% of the 1.3 millions jobs lost across all industries in 2009.

Most of the tech cuts happened in the first quarter of 2009, with more than 84,000 layoffs. More than 65,000 job cuts were announced on Jan. 30 alone, and included Sprint Nextel (S, Fortune 500) and Texas Instruments (TXN, Fortune 500). But by the fourth quarter, tech cuts tapered to just under 34,000. The report says the rapid decline in cuts over the year could signal a 2010 turnaround.

It's not surprising that during downtimes, with most companies focusing on how to keep their heads above the water, innovation is the first thing to go. Companies just don't have the money for tech spending. But the folks at Challenger say it might mean that when the economy starts turning around, computer and electronics firms should be among the first to see the turnaround, "as companies try to postpone hiring by achieving productivity gains through technology."

The report says that companies that use electronic health records should be hiring IT pros to make their systems fully functional.