Digital economy

Employment in the ICT sector continues dropping


Employment is continuing to drop in the information and communications technology (ICT) goods sector and remaining flat in most ICT services, according to a recent OECD report.

Employment in ICT manufacturing dropped by around 6-7% year-on-year in most countries in the second quarter of 2009. Sweden is the only exception with a smaller decline (3%), but Swedish job losses were accelerating. The United States has fared worst and the year-on-year downturn in ICT manufacturing employment reached 10% in September 2009. Since 2004 Chinese employment in the ICT manufacturing sector has been growing strongly, dropping dramatically in the beginning of 2009, with a negative growth rate of 5% in the second quarter compared to second quarter 2008.


Growth in quarterly employment in ICT manufacturing

Year-on-year percentage change

Source: OECD, from National Statistics Offices.

ICT services employment has been flat or increased slightly (by 1%) in most countries analysed (e.g. Canada, Germany, Sweden and Chinese Taipei). Korea and China had stronger employment growth in the most recent quarter and Chinese ICT services employment has been consistently positive. ICT services jobs declined by 2% in the United Kingdom and the United States.


Growth in quarterly employment in ICT services

Year-on-year percentage change

Source: OECD, from National Statistics Offices.


In the 80 global ICT firms analysed for this report, there were year-on-year job cuts of 1-2% in the first half of 2009. Semiconductor firms cut 4% of their jobs. Current announcements by ICT firms suggest that employment will drop by an additional 2-3% by the end of 2009. However, some niche ICT industries including green ICTs and cloud computing are promising to develop new ICT employment despite general job losses.

ICT sector production and employment are both cyclical, but employment lags the production cycle. Despite the upturn in global sales of ICT goods, ICT employment may be slow to pull out of this recession as it has in the past. During the last recession, employment reached a peak in 2000-2001, bottomed out in 2003-2004 and only started growing again in 2005, considerably later than the pick-up in production and value added.


For further information, contact Graham Vickery, OECD, Information, Communications and Consumer Policy Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 93 87).  See also the biennial OECD Information Technology Outlook:


Related Documents