Following the Fiber Jobs

November 15th, 2011 by · 2 Comments

Yesterday TelePacific issued a release highlighting their headcount growth this year, saying that growth in demand has led to what will be an additional 200 employees by the end of the year for the western CLEC.  That seems to be in addition to the company’s acquisitions of OCiX and Tel West, though since TelePacific is private we don’t have much independent data to work with.  However, it got me thinking – just where are the jobs in the sector these days?  Headcount is a fairly widely reported metric, why not collect it and see what we can do with it?  

For one thing, there are more feet on the ground right now looking for new positions, so a bit of data on where the hiring is can’t hurt right?  For a start I went out and harvested a headcount data from the filings of the various competitive US fiber operators focusing on the enterprise and wholesale space that I cover the most anyway.  I’ll see if I can take a look at the ILECs and such at a later time.  In some cases, quarterly data was available, and in others only annual.  To compare growth trends (or the inverse) in headcount across the sector, I normalized the data by headcount as of the end of 2010 and plotted it as follows:

Headcount Growth Relative to 12/31/2010


Zayo is the outlier here because of the magnitude of inorganic activity – the acquisitions of AGL and AFS boosted Q3/10 and Q4/10, and then the spinoff of some assets knocked down Q1/11.  All the other reported company’s headcount trends have been without such events (LVLT and GLBC data are prior to their merger), and you can uncheck Zayo’s box to view the others unhindered.

The strongest and steadiest relative hiring trend over the past few years has clearly been at AboveNet and Cogent, which of course matches their organic growth rates.  Cogent’s is less steady, with most of its hiring coming a few years back, and only recently seeing new hires tick up substantially.  Meanwhile, tw telecom has also seen its organic growth reflected in a steady stream of new hires.  Interestingly, Level 3’s headcount grew in sync with that of tw telecom over the past several years despite only in the past few quarters finding any growth momentum.

Global Crossing’s headcount had been remarkably flat for years, which I think reflected their tight expense management and overall holding pattern.  XO on the other hand has been getting smaller for some time.  We don’t of course have the results of XO’s October layoffs here yet nor are we ever likely to since they aren’t reporting data publicly any longer.   But the rumored 10% reduction wouldn’t be all that different from the prior year when there was also a substantial layoff event reported here, and is hence quite believable.

The data is incomplete of course, and I will be looking for more of it.  I haven’t found data for PAETEC or CBeyond, though I did just find a bit from Broadview Networks who has been contracting rapidly by more than 10% per year over the past few years.  I’ll have to add them in.  I could probably find Earthlink data, but the more M&A that is involved the harder it is to see hiring trends overall so I’m not sure how to present it yet.

I expect to take the employee data I have collected and take a look at a few other charts in the next days/weeks:  Revenue per employee and EBITDA per employee for a start.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

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Categories: CLEC · Financials · Jobs

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2 Comments So Far

  • Telecom Joe says:

    Sidera just did a substantial lay-off on Nov 4th. 30+ employees lost their jobs across many depts.

    • Rob Powell says:

      I have heard that from a couple people. Do you know the reason? Would it be just a realignment associated with the rumors they are for sale, or was there some sort of setback I haven’t yet heard about?

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