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This week in the workplace

The tech economy seems to be improving and more of us are employed, but how much work do workers really do?

Recent evidence suggests that the tech economy may be improving and that more of us working, but what are we really doing when we are supposed to be laboring?

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that payroll employment in computer and electronic products manufacturing rose by 7,400 in June to 1.34 million. The field of computer systems design and related services added 5,200 payroll jobs, for a total of 1.18 million.

In another sign of a possible turnaround in tech employment, a report said job cuts announced by tech companies in the second quarter fell 33 percent from the first quarter. But the study cautioned that the pace of tech-sector downsizing is still ahead of the rate a year ago.

Companies in the telecommunications, computer, electronics and e-commerce industries announced 39,720 job cuts last quarter, down from 59,537 job cuts in the first quarter of 2005. However, this second-quarter figure was 16 percent higher than in the same quarter a year ago.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard executives are expected this weekend to put the final touches on a reorganization that could result in the loss of about 15,000 jobs. The job cuts will then be announced on Monday, a source familiar with the company said.

The layoffs are part of CEO Mark Hurd's cost-cutting measures to bring HP's spending more in line with that of its rivals.

For those who are working, working doesn't seem to be a priority. Surfing the Internet seems to be the most popular form of loafing on the job, according a study on wasted time at work by compensation specialist and Web portal America Online.

Through a Web survey involving more than 10,000 employees, the report found that personal Internet surfing ranked as the top method of cooling one's heels at work. It was cited by 44.7 percent of respondents as their primary time-wasting activity, followed by socializing with co-workers (23.4 percent) and conducting personal business (6.8 percent).

The average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per day, not counting lunch, according to the report. That's far more time than the roughly one hour per day employers expect the average employee to waste, the report said. The extra unproductive time adds up to $759 billion annually in salaries for which companies get no apparent benefit, the report said.