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The government and the semiconductor industry promise to bring good jobs to American workers. But the evidence suggests that many of the new jobs may be low-wage and low-quality.

The White House 100-Day report on resilient supply chains cites an average salary for semiconductor workers of $163,871.

But averages can be misleading: this figure includes professional and management salaries along with lower wages of frontline production workers. 

Today, in the United States, jobs in production that require only high school or a GED, including production worker and machine operator, have salary ranges from as little as $21,700 to $54,750, according to a semiconductor trade association. With an associates degree, semiconductor process technicians can expect to earn between $28,320 to $70,320. Clearly, many of these jobs will not deliver the good family-sustaining salaries that host communities expect or deserve. 

Semiconductor engineers also report unsustainable working conditions: heavy workloads, high stress, poor training, long hours (including regular twelve-hour days plus weekends), unrealistic expectations from supervisors, and limited breaks. 

A TSMC engineer in Arizona reported that “people … slept in the office for a month straight… Twelve-hour days are standard, weekend shifts are common. I cannot stress … how brutal the work-life balance is here.” Similarly, Intel engineers in Oregon reported working “80+ hour weeks, transitioning at a whim between day shift and night shifts as management demanded…on call all of the time.”

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