Pace of dot-com layoffs slows in March

Layoffs at dot-coms continued to slow in March, indicating that once-highflying Internet companies might have cut all the jobs they can, according to a report released by a leading consulting and outplacement firm on Tuesday.

A total of 9,533 dot-com positions were eliminated as of March 26, 18 percent fewer than the 11,649 jobs cut in February, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. It was the lowest level since last November, when layoffs in the struggling sector began to rise after the collapse of the technology bubble.

The slowdown in layoffs doesn't represent a turnaround for the industry, but rather suggests that Internet companies are now operating at bare-bones levels, said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Challenger. "The declines we have seen in the last two months may be less of a sign that the sector is stabilizing and more indicative of the fact that dot-coms may be running out of jobs to cut," he said in a statement accompanying the report.

Challenger says 75,525 Internet employees have lost their jobs since December 1999, when it began compiling dot-com layoff figures. Challenger tracks cuts by monitoring corporate press releases.

The report shows that Internet technology companies - broadly defined as Internet access providers, telecommunications firms, digital distributors and Web technology developers fared the worst, cutting 4,516 positions in March. Among these were the high-profile layoffs of 300 people at application service provider Xpedior (XPDR) .'s Layoff Tracker, which covers a different set of companies, shows that 13,029 layoffs have occurred at technology firms through March 26. The difference is almost made up by 5,000 layoffs at Cisco Systems (CSCO) on March 9.

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