IBM, like many big technology companies — Cisco and HP are notable fellow travelers — knows how to shed US employees stealthily and in carefully measured increments, thus avoiding having to report staff reductions to federal and state government agencies.
Still, the layoffs continue, and the numbers tell an irrefutable story. As a Computerworld article demonstrates, IBM’s own numbers, as released in its annual financial reports, show that its US workforce is shrinking: from 127,000 in 2006 to 121,000 in 2007, and down to 115,000 last year. If the pattern holds, IBM will have shed another 6,000 US-based personnel in 2009.
In most instances, these jobs aren’t vanishing into thin air. Instead, IBM is steadily transferring jobs from the USA and other developed nations to the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).
In IBM’s case, most of the off-shored jobs are moving to India, though other nations are benefiting from the practice, too.
A corollary to the offshoring phenomenon is a trend at IBM and other major technology giants to shift jobs within the USA from high-cost areas to lower-cost regions. Whether the technology titans are offshoring or moving jobs around domestically, their goal is always the same: to lower operating costs in a bid to boost profits.