Arizona poised to double workforce in semiconductor industry - tens of thousands of jobs

“Arizona will be the epicenter for the semiconductor industry”
"Demand for semiconductors is through the roof," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said during an exclusive interview with 3 On Your Side.
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 1:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Your car is made with microchips. So is your smartphone. And your thermostat. And the robotic vacuum that roams your floors and cleans up after the kids.

“Demand for semiconductors is through the roof,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said during an exclusive interview with 3 On Your Side. The United States only manufactures about 12% of semiconductors, and Raimondo says the nation is vulnerable because of it.

“We purchase 80% of the most sophisticated semiconductor chips from Taiwan. And so, if Taiwan were to say, ‘No chips to America,’ it would grind our economy to a halt almost immediately. and it would be a real national security problem.”

Lawmakers in Washington D.C. are considering legislation called the CHIPS Act that would pump $52 billion worth of incentives into the semiconductor industry. “You could easily see Arizona going from 30,000 jobs to 60,000 or 70,000 jobs if this bill passes,” Raimondo projected.

The growth is already happening. Last year, Intel announced a $20 billion expansion in Chandler. And Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation is making a $12 billion investment in a new Phoenix facility. “What we’re seeing here in Arizona is not only growth in these incredible leaders but also in the entire supply chain,” said Sandra Watson, the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We have over 200 semiconductor companies here in Arizona today.”

“Ten years from now, Arizona will be known as the world-leading advanced manufacturing location for the semiconductor industry. I believe that we have all of the critical components to continue to advance and accelerate at the pace that the industry needs us to,” Watson added. “I believe Arizona will be the epicenter for the semiconductor industry in the future.”

So, the question is, will it happen fast enough? “A lot of the innovation that’s happening here is on a two- to three- or four-year runway. We still have a gap of time right now that we’re going to be dealing with supply chain shortages. What is the interim plan?” I asked Raimondo. “A lot of it is transparency,” Raimondo answered. “It’s hard for the producers to know who doesn’t have enough supply, and it’s a global supply chain. So, in order for them to meet that demand, we need increased transparency. We are also working with companies to help them increase their efficiency and production.”

Both the Senate and the House have passed versions of the legislation to support the semiconductor industry. President Joe Biden is calling on lawmakers to get a final bill on his desk to sign this week.