Smartphones and tablet computers are seemingly everywhere nowadays as consumers increasingly purchase wireless technologies that they can easily transport. However, while such electronic devices have surged in popularity over the past few years, employment within the wireless sector is falling, according to data.
The U.S. Labor Department's (BLS) May jobs report indicated that employment at U.S. wireless carriers fell to just under 170,000. When the recession ended in June of 2009, there were 190,000 people employed at those companies, leaving many industry analysts scratching their heads as to why there has been a drop in employment.
The May report also showed that those employed by those companies hit their lowest levels in more than 12 years. What's more, compared to the year prior wireless businesses shed about 2,000 jobs, Mobiledia reports
The lower number of jobs has perplexed industry watchers because the wireless industry's growth has climbed by 28 percent over the past 5 years. Logic asserts that when a sector is booming, it usually contributes to an uptick in overall employment at companies that operate within it.
However, the overall drop in employment has been caused by a number of factors, including the consolidation of wireless companies, productivity gains and improved efficiency, The Wall Street Journal reports
For example, while smartphone sales have soared over the past 16 months, the uptick in the number of consumers purchasing the devices has not prompted wireless providers to increase their staffs. That is largely a result of the surging productivity of employees at such companies, whose output per hour surged 24.3 percent in 2009, the latest year that data is available for.
The booming wireless industry is creating job growth in other sectors - most notably in technology companies - but soaring earnings have thus far not led to a similar rise jobs at wireless providers.
Wireless providers like Sprint laid off thousands of workers in 2008 and 2009, and in the process cut the overall number of employees working at call centers, CNET reports
. For its part, the company said it has streamlined its phone service and smartphone offerings, prompting the cuts to workers.
There could be more job-cutting in the future, though, industry analysts warn. If the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA is approved by U.S. regulators, it will most likely result in a smaller workforce.