Lost jobs get much more press and attention than new positions, according to the National Association of Call Centers, but the country still has the highest rate of closings.
Posted Aug 15, 2006
Despite all of the concern about call center jobs going offshore to India or nearshore to Canada, the United States is still the center for call center positions, according to David Butler, executive director of the National Association of Call Centers. Butler discussed the state of the call center industry at the ICCM Chicago conference Monday.
Looking at data gathered from a variety of sources, including company press releases, newsletters and reports, which still don't cover all possible call center jobs, 62 percent of call center jobs are located in the U.S. and 6 percent in the United Kingdom. Canada and India each have 5 percent of the total market. "The myth is that all of the contact center jobs are going to India, but the truth is that that is not the case," Butler said.
The reason for the misperception is that the press, local chambers of commerce, and companies themselves announce when call centers are closed, according to Butler. But the press doesn't notice so much when one opens, in part because sometimes companies don't say anything for fear of giving their competitors strategic information. "When a small center call center closes, it's big news," Butler said.
Fifty-two percent of all call centers opened between 2002 and 2006 are located in the U.S., Butler said. Another 16 percent were opened in the U.K. and 12 percent in the Philippines. Only 6 percent were opened in India.
On the other hand, the U.S. also leads the world in the percentage of call centers closed in the past five years, with three quarters of the shuttered total. The U.K. is next at 16 percent. Yet many of these are reopened in other U.S. locations to take advantage of lower prevailing wages, tax incentives, a better technology infrastructure or some combination of factors, according to Butler.
The net effect of the closures and openings in the last four years has been more than 183,000 new call center jobs, with about 25 percent of those in the U.S., according to Butler. While many see call centers as offering only minimum-wage jobs, Butler says that many of them pay agents around $10 per hour plus benefits. Companies that are growing need more call centers to provide better customer service, while companies with shrinking revenues tend to turn to call centers as low cost service channels, Butler said. "Either way a business goes is helping the call center industry."
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