You are here

Trade and Labor in the U.S. Semiconductor Industry


Andre Barbe, Dan Kim, David Riker


The pattern of international trade, employment, and wages within the U.S. semiconductor industry shifted significantly during 2006–16. We examine the aggregate trends in these economic variables over this 10-year period, broken into 5-year segments, using detailed data on labor market outcomes by occupation, and data on trade flows by country. China and Vietnam became far more important in U.S. semiconductor trade as both import and export markets. These shifts in trade flows are reflected in the increase in earnings of workers in the U.S. semiconductor industry. Average earnings in the industry rose over the last decade, mostly due to a shift in the workforce to engineers and the technicians that support them. These trends in the semiconductor industry are broadly consistent with the predictions of the model of international trade in tasks found in Grossman and Rossi-Hansberg (2008).