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Call It 'Microsoft Math'

When is a layoff really a layoff? A job cut versus a position elimination? Such was the craziness around Microsoft's"layoff" news todayand why there was so much confusion swirling around about whether the company was expanding or even contracting its job-cut plans announced earlier this year.

Microsoft
Microsoft

Some background: Microsoft announced in January plans to cut 5,000 positions or about 5 percent of its global workforce.

A few weeks ago, in a 10Q filed with the SEC connected to its quarterly earnings, Microsoft disclosed that the cutbacks that were supposed to be completed by June 2010 were actually completed far earlier.

But while the company did indeed eliminate 5,000 jobs, it only reduced headcount by 4,600 people. That's because 400 employees found work elsewhere inside the company.

Microsoft says it actually "hired" 2,000 workers this year. Not necessarily "new" workers all, but some employee transfers who might have lost their jobs in one unit only to be picked up by another unit.

Same goes with the 800 "additional" job cuts Microsoft is announcing today.

According to a spokesman, Microsoft is adding 800 job cuts to that original 5,000, bringing the total job cuts to 5,800. However, like the original 5,000, some of the 800 people being notified today that their jobs are being eliminated might be absorbed elsewhere in the Microsoft machine.

So, what's the real number of job cuts? 5,800. What's the real number of people who have actually lost their jobs and are leaving the company? No one seems to know, and we probably won't know until the company releases its next earnings report in January.

For what it's worth.

  • Pace of Layoffs, Planned Job Cuts Both Show Decline

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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