The chip industry, long a bellwether for the rest of the technology economy because chips are used in almost every device, is in a bigger funk than ever.

Sales in February fell 30.4 percent to $14.2 billion from $20.3 billion a year ago, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported this morning.

Sales were also down 7.6 percent from $15.3 billion in January, which itself was down 28 percent from a year earlier.

SIA President George Scalise said the chip industry is going through one of its steepest corrections in history. It is premature to claim that sales have hit a bottom, but Scalise said there are signs that the rate of decline has lessened from the fourth quarter of 2008. The industry has cut production and reduced inventory since late 2008.

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Among the positive signs: the two largest contract chip manufacturers have said their factory utilization rates have improved, although they’re still at levels below those of a year ago. Demand is likely to continue to be below 2008 levels for at least a few quarters, with a gradual recovery to follow, Scalise said.

Compared to a year ago, sales were down steepest in Europe, which had a 36 percent drop. Japan and Asia Pacific were down 30 percent each, while the Americas were down 24 percent.