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Even Microsoft And Sony Are Hit Hard In Economic Meltdown

I don't know that you could rationally argue anything as a "strong sector" of the economy at this point: SAN FRANCISCO — Not even high-tech is immu

I don't know that you could rationally argue anything as a "strong sector" of the economy at this point:

SAN FRANCISCO — Not even high-tech is immune from the economic meltdown.

Despite predictions — wishful thinking? — by some financial analysts that it would remain relatively unscathed, Silicon Valley and the rest of the industry buckled under distressing news Thursday.

Microsoft (MSFT) announced 5,000 layoffs — its biggest cutback ever — and Sony (SNE) said it will report an operating loss for the first time in 14 years: $1.65 billion. A day earlier, Intel said it will close several older factories, displacing 5,000 to 6,000 workers.

It is sobering news for the tech industry, which had resisted the gravitational pull of the tottering economy over the past year as consumers continued to snap up laptops and iPhones.

Not anymore. In the span of several weeks, orders for both business and consumer tech products have cratered, and technology companies began shedding workers.

Despite heartening quarterly results from Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) this week, and job losses that aren't as deep as those in the financial and automotive industries, the tech industry is suffering its worst downturn since the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s. As jobs evaporate, so too is funding for tech companies both large and small.

And while it's not "tech," even Toyota (remember how the Republicans screamed during the auto bailout that Toyota was doing well because it wasn't "shackled" by unions?) is looking at layoffs here:

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is considering cutting more than 1,000 full-time jobs in North America and the United Kingdom to cope with faltering global demand, a news report said Friday.

The details of the job cuts will likely be finalized by the end of the month, said the Nikkei, Japan's top business daily, citing an unnamed senior company official. Japan's top automaker could slash more jobs in other regions if global auto sales continue to slump, the daily said.

Toyota (TM) spokesman Yuta Kaga declined to confirm the report, saying nothing had been decided.

Hit by the collapse in demand for cars, Toyota is expecting to incur its first operating loss in 70 years. The company on Tuesday tapped Akio Toyoda, grandson of the Japanese automaker's founder, as president, paying homage to its roots amid a deepening global downturn.

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