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Tech Job Cuts: The 5 Worst Offenders

  • Unemployment is at record lows, but if you're in tech you might feel a little uneasy about your job security. "Restructure" has become the verb of the decade, rumors of bloodbaths frequent the blogosphere, and top-notch people bounce from one position to another like ping-pong balls.

    In 2014, the tech sector suffered the worst layoffs since 2009, eliminating 100,757 jobs during the course of the year. That was an increase of 77% over 2013, according to a report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Technology giants HP, Microsoft and Cisco led the pack as companies with the most planned layoffs, and the tech sector was responsible for 21% of the 483,171 total jobs lost in the U.S. in 2014.

    That doesn't mean your career in technology is doomed, however. As John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a statement, "Oddly, the technology sector was among the stronger segments of the economy in 2014 and is likely to be a source for continued growth and job creation in 2015." Layoffs instead indicate the industry is "in flux" and shifting resources around to stay competitive.

    In fact, many of the companies that are cutting jobs are simultaneously creating new ones in emerging fields and new areas of business. "The heavy downsizing that occurred in this sector last year should not be cause for alarm," assured Challenger.

    That said, demand for IT skills is shifting, and the employers that can and will pay for those skills are evolving as well. Here we outline the tech companies that cut the most jobs in 2014. Only time will tell if they are changing quickly enough to outpace the competition, of if the pink slips will continue to fly.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co.
    Market cap:
    Number of employees: 302,000
    2014 job cuts: 34,000

    The venerable Hewlett Packard Co., one of the largest employers in the Silicon Valley, announced layoffs several times during 2014, finally communicating a reduction of 34,000 positions, but with some estimates affecting as many as 55,000. The restructuring comes as HP reforms itself into two separate companies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. HP's revenues have declined every year since 2011, and the company is hoping the renewed focus and agility of the two companies will allow it to recover from its dependence on the aging PC and printer markets.

  • Microsoft
    Market cap:
    Number of employees: 128,000
    2014 job cuts: 18,000

    Microsoft went through the largest staff reduction in the company's history in 2014, cutting 18,000 positions. More than 12,000 of the reductions were related to the acquisition and integration of Nokia Devices and Services, and others included the closure of the companys Silicon Valley research facility. The layoff reduced Microsoft's workforce by about 15%, but positions the company to better focus on cloud and mobile delivery, it said.

  • Cisco
    Market cap:
    Number of employees: 72,000
    2014 job cuts: 6,000

    Cisco may be crowing over its latest quarterly financial results, but some of those earnings could be at the expense of a large 2014 layoff. In August, the networking company said it would eliminate 6,000 jobs, amounting to 8% of its workforce, due to slower than expected growth in emerging markets. The cuts are in addition to 20,000 positions Cisco has eliminated over the past five years, and underscore the challenges that vendors specializing in hardware have in adapting to a technology landscape dominated by software.

  • Intel
    Market cap:
    Number of employees: 107,000
    2014 job cuts: 5,350

    At the beginning of 2014, Intel announced a plan to "trim" its global workforce by 5%, amounting to about 5400 employees. The downsizing was in response to declines in revenue and flat growth predictions as the PC industry continued to shrink. Intel said it would refocus its resources into the areas of tablets, data centers, low power chips, and the Internet of Things.

  • Sprint
    Market cap:
    Number of employees: 36,000
    2014 job cuts: 5,000

    Cell carrier Sprint laid off 5,000 employees in 2014, after posting losses in subscribers and underperforming retail stores. The job cuts were part of an overall cost-cutting campaign to save $1.5 billion per year under new CEO Marcelo Claure. In terms of growth, Sprint is now bidding to expand with a co-branding deal in beleaguered RadioShack retail locations.