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Layoffs at tech companies greatly increased in August, far surpassing the national average for American companies. Among the hardest-hit slices: the computer and electronics products sector. Business these staged 20 major layoffs during the month, double the rate from a year ago. Each downsizing averaged 72 employees. The national unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in August, down from 9.1 percent a year ago, even though the number of companies chopping their labor force grew, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the professional and technical services sector saw 31 major layoffs in August, a 29 percent increase over August 2011. And while that wasn't as steep as the increase in computers and electronic products, the number of employees per layoff here was higher, reaching an average of 84 workers per cut. The national average, based on non-seasonally adjusted numbers, climbed 10.6 percent in August, representing layoffs at 1,063 companies. The overall number of employees affected averaged nearly 98 per cut.

Nipping and Tucking

The increase among computer and electronics products companies comes as no surprise, given the industry’s 0.03 percent decline in August job growth. The surprise in Friday's report was the hit taken by the professional and technical services industry. In August, it posted a 3.2 percent increase in jobs over the year ago period. When August's jobs report was released, Moody's Economist Bodhisattva Ganguli noted that there were signs that the services industry was beginning to replace jobs it had cut during the recession. However, the newest layoff figures imply that some selective pruning is underway. After all, we've heard before that many companies remain in hiring mode, even as they're letting hundreds or thousands of people go.