U.S. Plastics Manufacturing By the Numbers: Innovation, Technology and Production Efficiencies Fueling Growth

An in-depth data analysis of the plastics industry’s 2012 performance globally and in the U.S. is detailed in two reports from SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, titled, The Definition, Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry and Global Business Trends, Partners, Hot Products.

“Plastics continue to rank higher than the rest of the U.S. manufacturing sector’s key growth areas,” said William R. Carteaux, SPI’s president and CEO. “The industry has remained highly competitive by finding innovative solutions and efficiencies, as well as by expanding its international reach to new markets.”

Economists attribute the plastics industry’s continued growth to positive trends in overall economic health and an abundant supply of inexpensive natural gas.

While the nation’s employment began improving in 2013, the plastics industry has been steadily recovering since the 2008-2009 recession. The latest figures indicate that plastics industry employment in 2012 included 892,000 people in 15,949 facilities across the country. The industry kept pace by growing 0.1 percent per year from 1980 to 2012, which is better than manufacturing as a whole.

Plastics manufacturers shipped more than US$373 billion in goods and invested more than US$9.6 billion on new capital equipment in 2012.

Also reflecting the improving U.S. economy, apparent consumption of plastics industry goods grew 5.7 percent from US$237.6 billion in 2011 to US$251 billion in 2012.

The U.S. industry is gaining ground over other world markets due to its abundant new sources of natural gas via shale. “Use of natural gas by U.S. manufacturers reduces the cost of energy and feedstock creating a competitive advantage considering that most resins used in Europe and Asia are made from oil-based feedstock,” Carteaux said.

While the U.S. trade surplus was US$13.1 billion, Mexico and Canada remained the U.S. plastics industry’s largest export markets. The industry exported US$13.6 billion to Mexico and US$12.5 billion to Canada. China is the industry’s third largest export market.

Other numbers from the reports:

  • US$9.9 billion – the U.S. industry’s largest trade surplus was with Mexico
  • 2.3 percent – real shipments growth rate from 1980 to 2012
  • US$41.7 billion – the U.S. plastics industry’s payroll in 2012
  • 1.4 million – the number of jobs attributed to the plastics industry when suppliers are added
  • $456 billion – the total U.S. shipments attributed to the plastics industry when suppliers are added
  • 6.7 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in the U.S. are in the plastics industry
  • 15.8 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Michigan are in the plastics industry
  • 15.4 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Indiana are in the plastics industry
  • 13.3 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Ohio are in the plastics industry
  • 1 – California (because it is the largest state) has the most plastics industry employees (74,000)
  • 50 – number of states plastics industry employees and manufacturing activities are found

The reports are available at www.plasticsindustry.org/store.

 

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