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Tech workers forced to take holiday

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TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: A lot of Silicon Valley workers will be home for the holidays, even if they'd rather be working. Some tech companies are forcing furlough on white-collar workers. It's taken a bit of time, but the recession has finally come to the tech sector; it's an industry that knows a thing or two about downsizing, having survived the dotcom boom of the 90s and the subsequent bust. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from the innovation desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: Tech companies have reined in everything from research and development budgets, to public relations. Now, it's time to cut employee costs. Tech analyst Carmi Levy with AR Communications says some firms have forced both manufacturing and white collar workers to take time off.

Carmi Levy: A lot of companies that we deal with have told employees essentially to come back after New Year's, that they are going to completely shut down.

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Cisco have all reportedly closed up shop for the holidays. Some firms told workers to count the forced days off as vacation time. The changes could be preemptive -- a sign that tech firms learned their lessons from the tech bubble, and want to cut back before staring down bankruptcy.

A software developer who asked not to be identified for obvious reasons told me his company "encouraged" him to take vacation before the end of the year. But he's not complaining. He says he'd rather take time off, than live through rounds of layoffs and salary cuts, like he did in 2000.

Unnamed Tech Worker: The final round got staved off because instead of doing another round of layoffs, they did an across the board, 15 percent pay cut. This certainly beats the pants off of both of those options.

And it beats some of the options other workers face -- like four-day workweeks, or reduced pay. But when it's that or the unemployment line, any arrangement can look like a good one.

Executive coach Jason Zickerman, is president of The Alternative Board. He says if you're one of the employees being asked to do more for less, you should be pleased.

Jason Zickerman: The fact that they're thinking of creative ways to help keep your job, while things turn around, I think is a very positive sign.

Zickerman thinks this is just the beginning. He says across the board sacrifices will in continue in most sectors, including tech, into next year.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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