siaWorldwide chip sales rose 5 percent in August to $19.1 billion compared to July sales of $18.2 billion. Compared to August a year ago, sales were down 16.1 percent from $22.7 billion.

The continued improvement this year, month-over-month increases for the past six months, show that the industry is continuing a slow but steady climb to recovery, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the chip industry’s trade group. The semiconductor industry is a bellwether for the global tech economy, since chips are used in everything electronic.

Sales were up sequentially in all geographic regions. Year-to-date sales through August are down 21.3 percent to $133.8 billion from $170.1 billion at this time last year. The rate of decline has slowed from the first six months of 2009 during which sales declined by 25 percent year-on-year. All monthly sales numbers are based on a three-month moving average of global semiconductor sales.

SIA President George Scalise credited various incentive programs for energy-efficient products, ranging from automobiles to home appliances, for bolstering demand for semiconductors. Scalise said netbook computers (smaller than laptops, aimed at web browsing) are now 17 percent of the laptop market. Overall PC prices have declined 14 percent this year even as the amount of chip memory in the machines has increased 25 percent.

Consumers now account for 50 percent of all PC unit sales. While consumer demand is strong, the recovery in the enterprise is slow, Scalise said.