IBM Now Has More Employees in India Than in the U.S.

The work in India has been vital to keeping down costs at IBM, which has posted 21 consecutive quarters of revenue declines as it has struggled to refashion its main business of supplying tech services to corporations and governments.

The tech industry has been shifting jobs overseas for decades, and other big American companies like Oracle and Dell also employ a majority of their workers outside the United States.

But IBM is unusual because it employs more people in a single foreign country than it does at home. The company’s employment in India has nearly doubled since 2007, even as its work force in the United States has shrunk through waves of layoffs and buyouts. Although IBM refuses to disclose exact numbers, outsiders estimate that it employs well under 100,000 people at its American offices now, down from 130,000 in 2007. Depending on the job, the salaries paid to Indian workers are one-half to one-fifth those paid to Americans, according to data posted by the research firm Glassdoor.

Big in India

American technology companies have been expanding in India for years, drawn by the availability of low-cost, technically trained English-speaking talent. Indian government agencies and corporations have also become major buyers of hardware, software and services, spending about $38 billion last year.

Employees in India

Overall work force

Alphabet (Google)

Employees in India

Overall work force

Alphabet (Google)

Employees in India

Overall work force

Alphabet (Google)

What They Do in India


Things as diverse as cutting-edge research and managing computer networks for many of the world’s biggest corporations.


Much of its software development. It has more employees in India than in any other country except the United States.


Research and development, consulting and management of computing systems. After acquiring the storage company EMC, Dell became a major force in India.


Everything. The network equipment maker consciously set up its Bangalore campus 10 years ago as a “second world headquarters.”


Software development, cloud and cybersecurity services, as well as customer support and testing on how to bring the internet to rural areas.

Alphabet (Google)

Software development for services like Gmail, maps and YouTube, as well as ones aimed at the Indian market, such as voice dictation and mobile payments.

Ronil Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University who studies globalization and immigration, said the range of work done by IBM in India shows that offshoring threatens even the best-paying American tech jobs.

“The elites in both parties have had this Apple iPhone narrative, which is, look, it’s O.K. if we offshore the lower-level stuff because we’re just going to move up,” he said. “This is a wake-up call. It’s not just low-level jobs but high-level jobs that are leaving.”

While other technology titans have also established huge satellite campuses in India, IBM caught the attention of President Trump. At a campaign rally in Minneapolis just before the November election, he accused the company of laying off 500 Minnesotans and moving their jobs to India and other countries, a claim that IBM denied.

Although he has not singled out the company for criticism since, Mr. Trump has tried to curb what he viewed as too many foreigners taking tech jobs from Americans. In April, he signed an executive order discouraging the granting of H-1B temporary work visas for lower-paid tech workers, most of whom come from India. IBM was the sixth-largest recipient of such visas in 2016, according to federal data.

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Source: New York Times – Technology



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