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Millions punching the Y2K clock Friday

Approximately 5 million people will work overtime in the United States Friday night through Saturday morning to monitor computers and networks, according to estimates from International Data Corp.

It's a lonely New Years Eve job, but somebody's got to do it. A lot of somebodies.

Approximately 5 million people will work overtime in the United States Friday night through Saturday morning to monitor computers and networks, according to estimates from International Data Corp.

What they'll be watching for is the Year 2000 technology glitch, which could cause unprepared computers to misread "00" in two-digit date fields as 1900 instead of 2000 and malfunction.

IDC estimates that almost 2 million people will work in overtime at state, local and federal government sites while the rest of the overtimers will toil in the private sector. Computer and computer service and software companies will be one of the more active sectors and have hundreds of thousands of employees working. Financial organizations, transportation companies and the health care sector will also be fairly active.

The staffing estimates were based on survey data on IT (information technology) staffing for New Year's Eve but include other job functions as well.

And it won't just be the IT gang that'll be burning the midnight oil.

"Many companies not only have IT staff on hand, but also operations, customer support, security and even publicity staff," John Gantz, IDC senior vice president, said in a statement.