Boston-Area Tech Layoffs Slow: A Recap of Summer’s Job Cuts at Analog Devices, CombinatoRx, and Other Firms

8/17/09

If you’re fortunate enough to be gainfully employed, you may have joined the droves of other Boston-area innovators who have headed for the Cape, the White Mountains, or another summertime retreat in recent months. Or perhaps you’ve been busy looking for your next career challenge. Either way, with Labor Day fast approaching, we thought it’d be useful to tie together labor trends and some of the larger layoffs that have occurred at technology and life sciences firms in New England since Memorial Day.

First, it’s been encouraging to see that our Boston Tech Layoff Tracker has not been as busy this summer as it was over the previous spring, winter, and fall seasons. Perhaps this is another sign that the worst of this economic recession is behind us. Since June 1, we’ve recorded that Massachusetts-based life sciences and tech firms announced a total of 718 jobs would be cut in their organizations. Now, that doesn’t include the small startups we follow that have been cutting jobs without officially announcing the layoffs: For example, we reported this month that Chelmsford, MA-based online music startup OurStage downsized its ranks from 38 to 17 workers last fall after some investment dollars failed to come through. But this summer’s layoff total to date marks a significant falloff from the 971 layoffs we recorded at Massachusetts life sciences and tech firms in the spring months of April and May.

It’s been a tough year for innovation companies here and everywhere, but layoffs seem to have peaked in the first quarter of this year. State figures show that the impact of layoffs among tech and life sciences workers in the Bay State is consistent with the impact on workers in the rest of the economy. (Of course, the state says that jobs in industries such as construction and financial services have been hit the hardest by layoffs in the commonwealth.) According to the most recent employment figures from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the number of professional, scientific, and technical jobs in the commonwealth fell from about 258,200 in June 2008 to 249,700 this June, a 3.29 percent decline. (Admittedly, these figures are just an indication and the job category the state uses does not reflect all the jobs in tech and life sciences firms.) The state labor agency reported that year-over-year employment levels for all non-farming jobs in June were down about 3.2 percent, meaning that the layoff trend has far from spared local innovation-based firms.

Here is our recap of the summer’s largest tech and life sciences layoffs in the Boston area:

—Just last week, Sonus Networks (NASDAQ: SONS), a Westford, MA, company helping cable, wireless, and telephone companies with the transition to Internet-based communications, announced a fourth round of layoffs as part of its ongoing “rightsizing” effort, this time affecting 93 people. Sonus let go 50 workers in December, 40 in January, and 60 in March, for a total of 243.

—Analog Devices (NYSE:ADI), the Norwood, MA-based maker of micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) chips for multiple industries, told the Boston Globe earlier this month that the company plans to cut … Next Page »

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  • andrew kolodziej

    You could add to the list EPIX Pharmaceuticals which ceased operations in July, letting go their remaining ~30-40 workers (on the heals of a March layoff of about the same size).

  • http://www.mtsg.com Recruiter Bill

    Chatter I hear has improved somewhat over the past 2 months. In my business there is talk of a little uptick in hiring albeit early next year.