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Gains in chip sales, tech jobs take a breather

Apr 5, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) reported that worldwide semiconductor sales in February decreased 1.3 percent from January, but were 56.2 percent higher than Feb. 2009, led by sales to emerging economies. On Friday, meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted a slight dip in computer-related jobs in March, after months of steady gains, reports eWEEK.

Taken together, the SIA and Bureau of Labor Statistics reports suggest that while the economy may be recovering from the recession, the recovery is far from robust. Technology has fared better than most industries in surviving the tough times — with the exception perhaps of high end enterprise software and servers — and it has rebounded more quickly than other sectors. However, the tech market appears to be recovering in fits and starts.

Worldwide semiconductor revenues by total revenues and year-to-year (Y/Y) change

(Source: WSTS and Semiconductor Industry Association)
(Click to enlarge)

Despite the global 1.3 percent drop in semiconductor sales from January to $22.0 billion, the SIA framed the numbers as reflecting "continued recovery of sales of semiconductors." Looking at the big picture, the overall trend has been positive for semiconductor sales, the industry group suggests, pointing at a 56 percent year-on-year growth from the $14.1 billion in revenues reported in Feb,. 2009. On the other hand, the SIA notes that January and February of last year represented a low point for the semiconductor industry in recent years.

The monthly dip was most acute in the Americas, says the report. Chip revenues fell 3.7 percent in the Americas to $3.61 billion, says the SIA. The 47.8 percent year-to-year growth for the Americas was stronger than Japan's 23.7 percent increase or Europe's 36.5 percent gains, but doesn't come close to the quickly rebounding Asia Pacific region, which saw a 78.6 percent year-to-year jump, according to the study. The SIS report was based in part on data compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization.

Chip sales to rebound first for PCs, cellphones

The semiconductor upturn in recent months has been "principally driven by growth in sales of electronic products in emerging economies," stated SIA president George Scalise. Looking forward, the SIA suggests that the February downturn is nothing more than a blip, especially in terms of processors used for PCs and handsets. "Unit sales of the two leading demand drivers for semiconductors — personal computers and cell phones — are now projected to grow in the low- to mid-teens in 2010," stated Scalise.

In November, the SIA projected that sales will grow by 10.2 percent to $242.1 billion in 2010 and by 8.4 percent to $262.3 billion in 2011. Now, the SIA is suggesting that its estimates might have been on the conservative side. "There are encouraging signs that the global economic recovery will continue, and we remain cautiously optimistic that there is upside potential for growth beyond our November forecast for 2010," stated Scalise.

U.S. jobs up, but not in tech

As was widely reported in the mainstream press, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had some good news on Friday, announcing 162,000 new, non-farm jobs in the U.S. in March. Our sister publication eWEEK noticed, however, that technology was not one of the bright spots.

The Bureau's report, compiled by U.S. Department of Labor, shows that technology workers, categorized under "Computer Systems & Design," saw 5,800 jobs lost between February and March, according to Don Sears, writing in eWEEK. The drop in tech jobs reversed a three-month trend that saw the addition of 4,200 new jobs.

Despite the loss, preliminary figures for one-year net gains remain positive at 9,500 new jobs, writes Sears. The article did not cite any reasons for the sudden drop.


The SIA press release, which offers links to additional breakdowns of semiconductor revenue estimates by global region, may be found here.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics March jobs report may be found here. The eWEEK story on the report may be found here.

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