Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hynix Closes Eugene Fab

This one hits close to home - my dad worked for Hynix and this closure was not a surprise.

From the Oregonian:

Oregon's jittery economy took its biggest hit Wednesday with word that Hynix Semiconductor plans to shutter its 10-year-old memory chip plant in Eugene in the next two months, putting more than 1,100 employees and 300 contractors out of work.
Kim Jong-kap, chairman of the Korean company, delivered the news personally to Gov. Ted Kulongoski and to Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy during a visit to Oregon on Wednesday. Kim told them the closure resulted from the chip industry's move to larger, more efficient 300-millimeter silicon wafers, instead of the 200-millimeter wafers used at the Eugene plant.
Employees are to be formally notified today. Hynix declined comment, pending that notification.

"For us, this is a huge blow to our families, and it's a blow to our economy," Piercy said. She said Hynix left the door open to restarting the plant in some capacity but hadn't determined how or when.
Thus far, Oregon has withstood a sharp downturn in its construction and wood products industry with only a comparatively modest loss of jobs. A number of other manufacturers -- among them, Monaco Coach Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. -- also plan substantial
But those job cuts number in the hundreds. Hynix's closure ranks among the state's biggest layoffs this decade. Its effects will be acutely felt around Eugene, where large employers are far less numerous than in the Portland area.
"It's distressing," said Dave Hauser, president of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. "It feels like a bit of a step backward for our regional economy."
Hynix is Lane County's biggest high-tech employer. The average high-tech wage in Lane County is $51,200 a year -- far outpacing the county's average wage of about $31,000, Hauser said.
"As a region and a community, we have our work cut out for us to find a replacement for those jobs," he said.

From The Register Guard:

Hynix employees greeted news of their job loss Wednesday less with anger than a sense of grim acceptance, people at the plant said.
Four months ago, the company began shutting down machines here and there across departments. Two months ago, fully half the machines were stilled, employees said.
Day by day, rumors of a shutdown supplanted rumors of a retool that replaced earlier rumors of closure, they said.

The prospects of finding jobs that pay $12 an hour and more with good medical benefits and paid vacations in Eugene-Springfield are fairly grim, said Ed Whitelaw, president of ECONorthwest, an economics consulting firm in Eugene.

UPDATE: Think Out Loud will be doing a show Monday about the closure and the impact on the local economy. You can read more about it here.