Global semiconductor sales grew 11.4% in February compared to February 2013 as revenue reached $23.23 billion, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). February’s sales increase was the largest year-to-year increase in more than three years. However, worldwide chip sales in February 2014 were 1.5% lower than January when sales totaled $26.26 billion.
"The trend lines remain positive for the global semiconductor industry, which has followed record revenues in 2013 with an encouraging start to 2014," said Brian Toohey, SIA president and CEO. He said there was strong chip growth in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. Year-to-year semiconductor sales increased 19% in the Americas, 12% in Asia Pacific, and 9.6% in Europe.
The Japanese market “continued its recent rebound” although sales in Japan fell 0.2%, said Toohey. However, February marked Japan’s smallest year-to-year decrease for semiconductors since August 2012.
Toohey said the U.S. semiconductor market has been a key driver of global market growth over the last year. Policymakers in Washington can help maintain sales growth momentum by enacting measures that “remove obstacles to continued growth," he said.
“One such obstacle is America's dysfunctional immigration system, which was revealed again this week when scarce H-1B visas were rapidly claimed by employers,” said Toohey. An H-1B visa allows employers in the U.S. to temporarily employ foreigners in specialty occupations such as engineering. He said immigration policies are outdated and hamper economic growth and innovation. Lawmakers need to work together to enact “meaningful immigration reform in short order," according to Toohey.