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July 2006, Vol. 129, No.7
Cutting the cord: telecommunications employment shifts toward wireless
Christopher C. Carbone
The telecommunications industry experienced unprecedented employment gains in the latter half of the 1990s and into early 2001, growing by 36 percent from January 1996 to March 2001.1 This fast-paced growth was fueled largely by changes in Federal regulation, the anticipated demand for telecommunications products associated with those changes, and with rapidly developing technology. The subsequent employment downturn, one signal of the end of the "tech boom," was large and quick. The industry as a whole regrouped and changed its focus to new and emerging technologies as consumer demand for telecommunications services shifted from traditional land-line based services to emerging wireless services. Telecommunications shed 25.3 percent of its employees from the March 2001 peak through 2005. (See chart 1.) This employment bust took only 4 years, about a year less than the employment boom. This article details the telecommunications industry’s growth and subsequent bust.
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1 Data on employment used in this article are from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, which surveys 160,000 nonfarm businesses representing about 400,000 establishments monthly. For more information on the program’s concepts and methodology, see BLS Handbook of Methods, Bulletin 2490 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1997), Chapter 2 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch2.htm. CES data are available on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ces/. Data used in this article are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise noted.
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