America's Chips Are Down

Semiconductor makers struggle through a sharp decline

The approaching holiday season holds little joy for thousands of employees and executives in the semiconductor industry. This year major makers of the tiny electronic wafers, which are the raw material of the high-technology age and run everything from watches to supercomputers, are playing the role of the Grinch. They will shut their doors for up to three weeks next month, a time when workers normally expect year-end bonuses and office celebrations. The painful closings are only the latest steps that chip producers are taking to cope with a slump that has crippled the once booming high-tech industry. "There's no end...

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