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Nearly 40k tech industry workers furloughed due to crisis, survey finds

A survey by tech industries lobby group finds that some firms don't think they've hit bottom yet.

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Welder at work, file photo. Image: Mikko Koski / Yle

Weak demand continues to plague technology firms, according to lobby group Technology Industries of Finland.

Earlier this month, the group carried out a survey regarding companies' order books and personnel levels . The survey also examined the effects the coronavirus crisis has had on firms in the sector.

Nearly half of the respondents said they expect that business will continue to decline as the crisis continues, with 46 percent saying the quietest time for business is yet to come.

At the end of September, nearly 40,000 workers in the technology sector were furloughed, according to a release issued on Friday.

Almost one-third of the firms queried said that weak demand was worrying them a great deal a sentiment that has remained virtually unchanged throughout the autumn, according to the survey.

Smaller firms feel pinch

Difficulties are particularly acute for SMEs, as some and large and medium-sized enterprises had seen growth and improvement in July-September, compared to the same period a year ago.

"Overall, it can be said the decline [in business] did not continue in the third quarter. However, the situation of technology companies will continue to be challenging well into the early winter," the Technology Industry's chief economist, Petteri Rautaporras, said in the release.

Firms also said they were increasingly concerned about next year's business outlook, as the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic's rapid escalation has created new uncertainties.

Rautaporras said there were considerable differences in responses among various companies.

The lobby group said some firms reported order growth during Q3, thanks to a handful of significant orders, which were a pleasant surprise after a weak second quarter. However, for most companies, orders were down compared to last quarter.

The firms taking part in the Technology Industry's order log survey noted an eight-percent increase in orders during Q3 compared to the previous quarter, but the third quarter saw 12 percent fewer orders compared to a year ago.

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