Tech firms hold their own in jobs slump

Technology appears to be one of the least hard-hit sectors in the economy beset by unemployment at a five-year high, according to the Associated Press, as reported on the Austin American-Statesman Web site.

The Labor Department reported Sept. 5 that companies slashed their payrolls by 84,000 jobs last month, sending the nation's unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, from 5.7 percent in July.

Automakers and housing related manufacturers were among those losing the most jobs during the month, while education, health and government saw job gains. But unlike in 2001, when a bust in the technology sector?accompanied by massive layoffs?played a central role in sparking a recession, this time around the industry is more insulated.

"Overall, technology employment is up in America and the wages associated with it are up," said John McCarthy, a vice president with Forrester Research.

This is not to say that the industry is immune to a downturn, McCarthy said, as it seemed to be in its early years, starting in the 1970s through the 1990s. The technology sector has matured, which means it is become more susceptible to the ups and downs of the economy.

Within the technology sector, software vendors?whose products can help other companies automate processes and save money in downturns?have held up particularly well so far, said Andrew Bartels, a Forrester vice president. And large U.S.-based companies have been able to offset weakness domestically with solid growth overseas.

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