In 2010, semiconductors brought in record revenue of $298.3 billion worldwide, a jump of 31.8 percent compared with the previous year, according to data out yesterday from the Semiconductor Industry Association.
In addition, chip sales in December hit $25.2 billion, a gain of 12.2 percent compared with 2009's final month. Fourth-quarter revenue grew the same percentage from the year-ago quarter to reach $75.5 billion.
"Semiconductor sales are a bright spot in our current economic picture, delivering a record high in the billions," SIA President Brian Toohey said in a statement. "The year-over-year growth is due in part to the increased use of semiconductor technology in a wider range of electronic devices that we have come to enjoy in modern life. Our member companies continue to ramp up their operations to meet the growing demand for semiconductor innovation."
Though December showed growth for the industry compared with the same period in 2009, sales were actually down 3 percent from November, which the SIA said was in line with seasonal trends. But the fourth-quarter likewise showed a sales dip of 4 percent compared with the third quarter.
Representing semiconductor companies, the SIA acknowledged the effects of competition on the industry but also pinned some blame on Washington.
"Our industry is faced with fierce global competition and our policymakers and regulators must ensure that we have balanced tax, regulatory, and trade policies to allow our industry to continue to flourish in the U.S. and remain America's largest export industry," Toohey said.
Looking ahead, the SIA is eyeing more moderate single-digit growth for chip companies, which it sees as encouraging in light of the ongoing effects of the economic downturn.