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Tech sector layoffs fell dramatically in 2011

If you work in the technology sector, good news: You’re chances of losing your job fell dramatically last year.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Monday that computer, electronics and telecommunications firms announced 37,038 planned job cuts in 2011, the lowest level since the company started keeping tabs on such cuts in 1997.

That’s a 79 percent drop from 2009, when layoffs in the tech sector hit a peak of 174,629. It’s also a 21 percent drop from 2010, the outplacement firm said.

In total, U.S. companies across all industries announced 606,082 layoffs in 2011, up 14 percent from the year before.

Challenger, Gray only counts layoffs that companies announce publicly, so it’s possible some companies are quietly cutting staff.

It also offered one other caveat: Tech-sector layoffs surged in the second half of 2011, which could portend an uptick in layoffs this year.

Still, Challenger, Gray is predicting that the technology sector will continue to grow in 2012. It notes that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and electronic manufacturing companies saw a net gain in jobs in 2011, for a total of about 1.12 million.

In general, the economy has been slowly adding jobs each month as the country works to recover from the Great Recession.

The technology industry has long been a hub of both good and bad employment news. While some IT workers have had their jobs outsourced to cheaper overseas locales, other computer scientists and engineers have found their skills to be in high demand.  

The earnings season hasn't offered clear guidance on where tech firms are headed. Google surprised Wall Street last week with a rare earnings miss, for example, while computing giant IBM beat its earnings estimates for the quarter.

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