NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Downsizing in the technology sector slowed in the first quarter of 2004, with job cuts down 52 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, an outplacement consulting company said Thursday.
High-tech job reductions fell to 29,513 in the first three months of 2004, 64 percent lower than the 82,328 cuts announced in the final quarter of 2003 by technology industries of computers, telecommunications, electronics and e-commerce, according to the consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
The firm said the first-quarter number is the lowest on record since it began tracking in January 2001.
The tech job cuts represented 11.2 percent of the 262,840 cuts announced by all industries during the three-month period, down from 17 percent in the first quarter of 2003, Challenger said.
By contrast, technology job reductions accounted for 32 percent of all cuts in 2002 and 36 percent of all cuts in 2001, according to the firm.
Telecom firms led all technology firms in job cutting, as they have in 11 of the previous 12 quarters, Challenger said.
"This may not mean that telecom is the weakest of the technology industries, but it is clearly the most volatile," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in a statement. "While some areas in this industry are consolidating, others are expanding."
"Overall, technology job cuts appear to be waning, a trend which may temper some of the increasingly heated debate over the controversial practice of offshore outsourcing," he added.
But Challenger said that while offshore outsourcing is not leading to a surge in job-cut announcements, it can be argued that it is slowing job creation in technology.