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HP blamed as tech sector job losses hit 3 year high

HP job cuts that will affect approximately 30,000 workers pushed the technology sector over the layoffs edge in the first half of 2012, with a three-year high of more than 51,500 jobs lost.

According to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas report on tech sector downsizing, various computer, electronics, and telecommunications firms announced a combined 51,529 job cuts in the last six months, a 260 per cent increase from the 14,308 announced during the same period last year.

Worse yet, 2012's mid-year total is 39 per cent higher than 2011's year-end total of 37,038. The outplacement consulting firm estimated that this is the largest mid-year total since 2009, when more than 118,100 layoffs were announced in the first six months.

HP's May announcement to shed tens of thousands of jobs from its payroll was due to the company's loss of competitiveness, Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger said in a statement. He cited the firm's inability to compete with Apple's iPad, while also falling behind IBM and Accenture on the consulting side.

"As a result," Challenger said, "the firm announced the largest mass layoff so far this year, and joins a relatively short list of private-sector companies that have announced five-figure layoffs" in recent years.

While job cuts in other industries are also making headlines, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said the 283,091 job cuts announced across all corporations so far this year rose just 15 per cent from last year's 245,806.

Challenger expects more cuts from the computer sector in the coming months, saying that people are spending more on technology, but only with a handful of companies.

"Those that are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing trends and consumer tastes are shuffling workers to new projects or laying them off altogether," he said.

Despite tough numbers, research firm Gartner forecasted global spending on IT products and services to stay on track, if not increase by 3 percent this year, up from an earlier 2.5 per cent estimate.

Still, more sales doesn't necessarily mean more employees, though digital marketing firm Acquity Group said via the Challenger, Gray & Christmas release that top tech companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple are hiring aggressively to fill shortages of qualified professionals.