Throughout past recessions, call centers picked up the slack and hired what amounted to millions of Americans to make and take calls. In 1990 and onward economic development agencies worldwide began to court contact centers to help them solve their job loss problems.
Now 20 years later, the call center climate has changed dramatically. IP communications allows agents to be located anywhere - even outside our borders. In addition the internet (email, etc) is a viable marketing alternative to speaking on the phone.
In addition, outbound telemarketing which employed millions has been wiped out and with it billions in commerce and millions of jobs.
Remember - there will always be the need to speak over the phone when buying products - regardless of whether these calls are going over IP or not.
Moreover the inbound side of the contact center industry continues to grow and although there are obviously layoffs in the contact center space, I have seen precious little hiring anywhere besides this recent announcement that IBM will hire 1,300 support center agents in Iowa.
Economic development agencies - it is time to start looking at contact centers again as a growth area in your regions.