Information technology may be able to weather the fallout. IT "is often looked at as a way to decrease the cost of operations and lower the risk of operations and improve productivity," said John Carrow, an executive at Blue Bell-based Unisys Corp., the largest IT company in Pennsylvania and in need of a good turn itself.

The contraction of the financial-services industry is also expected to be a boon for IT companies as data centers and other aspects of merged banking companies need to be consolidated.

Likewise, the cable TV industry offers a rare area of optimism, largely because of broadband, said analyst Craig Moffett. "The cable operators are positioned not just with the best broadband pipe," he said, "but also with the lowest marginal costs." It is expected to remain that way for much of the next decade despite competition in limited parts of the country by telephone companies - such as Verizon's planned entry with FiOS service into Philadelphia, where Comcast Corp. dominates.

But the slowdown will be less kind to the region's media sector.

Consolidation will be the trend of the next 18 months, predicts industry lawyer Lloyd Zane Remick. That will range from station mergers to sharing of resources, such as video footage shot by helicopter news crews, already under way here. Gone are the days when television news and radio personalities could go into contract negotiations with a sense of "entitlement" for a salary increase of 20 percent to 40 percent, he said. Now, job security is the goal.

At newspapers, the inability to substantially grow circulation and advertising continues to force cuts in staffing. Experts are forecasting a 15 percent drop in advertising revenue for all newspapers in 2009. Web advertising will grow slower - up to 15 percent rather than 20 percent.      - Diane Mastrull