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HIGH-tech industry's job growth slows to slowest pace in five years


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The early fallout from the dot-com crash slowed high-tech job growth in 2000 to its slowest pace in five years, and the comedown appears likely to last through this year, according to an annual industry review released Wednesday.

The report, compiled by high-tech trade group AeA and the Nasdaq Stock Market, provides the latest statistical snapshot of a high-flying industry in descent.

The study ``confirms that the current high-tech slowdown began in 2000. And many current indicators point to a continued slowing of growth in 2001,'' said AeA President William T. Archey.

Despite last year's sell-off of tech stocks and rash of dot-com failures, the high-tech industry still added a net 234,761 jobs in 2000, a 4.6 percent increase from the previous year. That raised the sector's total payroll to 5.32 million workers nationwide, according to the report, titled ``Cyberstates 2001.''

Last year's job gains were the lowest high-tech payroll increase since 1995, when the industry's total job base rose by 4.3 percent. In the last five years, the high-tech industry created 1.3 million new jobs, with California accounting for nearly one-fourth of the growth.

California, the nation's high-tech hub, fared far better than the rest of the country last year. High-tech firms added 101,080 more jobs there last year, a 10 percent increase that pushed the industry's payroll in the state to 973,555 workers.

Texas increased its high-tech job base by 4 percent in 2000, and ranked a distant second to California with 440,718 workers, the report said. The nation's other top high-tech havens included New York (339,131 jobs, up 1 percent), Massachusetts (233,848 jobs, up 5 percent) and Florida (231,413 jobs, up 6 percent).

California's high-tech workers also demanded premium wages, earning an average of $83,103 in 1999, the most recent year available. The 1999 figures represented a 22 percent raise from the 1998 average wage of $68,383 paid to California's high-tech workers.

Only high-tech workers in Washington state _ home to computer software giant Microsoft Corp. _ earned more, with an average 1999 wage of $134,009, a 24 percent raise from the prior year.

Nationally, high-tech workers received a 10 percent raise for an average pay of $64,863, nearly twice the average wage of $33,220 paid in all private-sector jobs.

The compensation figures include salary, bonuses and stock options. With many tech stocks losing more than half of their value during the past year, the industry's paychecks could level off, or even decline.

The report didn't try to gauge the impact of this year's wave of layoffs by more established tech companies, which are absorbing the aftershocks rippling through the economy from the dot-com crash.

Through May, companies nationwide had announced 268,437 layoffs in high-tech fields, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago job placement firm. The high-tech layoffs accounted for 41 percent of the 652,510 job cuts announced in all industries, Challenger said. California companies accounted for 106,834 of the job cuts in the first five months of the year, more than twice the number announced during all of 2000.

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