Canadian Plastics

Report indicates continued U.S. plastics industry growth in 2021

Real plastics industry shipments are expected to increase 2.2 per cent this year following a 0.9 per cent decrease last year, according to the Plastics Industry Association's latest Size & Impact report.

September 22, 2021   Canadian Plastics

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an estimated 0.9 per cent decrease in the real value of shipments in plastics manufacturing in the U.S., the Plastics Industry Association says, but U.S. plastics shipments are expected to increase 2.2 per cent this year, and the outlook for the U.S. plastics industry for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 will be linked to the global economic recovery.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization released its 2021 Size & Impact report in conjunction with a Sept. 21. The 2021 report indicates that the U.S. plastics industry remains one of the largest sectors of the American economy and continues on a strong growth path.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult test for the plastics industry, but it has proven our durability and resilience as the data continues to demonstrate our positive impact on America’s economy,” said Tony Radoszewski, the association’s president and CEO. “We’re the eighth largest industry in the country and accounted for almost one million jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in shipments last year.”

This year’s report indicates that the U.S. plastics industry accounted for US$394.7 billion in shipments in 2020 and 945,300 jobs. When suppliers to the U.S. plastics industry are included, the total shipments figure balloons to US$541.5 billion and 1.55 million jobs. According to the most recent data, the plastics industry is the eighth largest industry in America.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a thriving U.S. economy affecting many industries including plastics,” said Perc Pineda, PhD, the group’s chief economist. “This resulted in an estimated 0.9 per cent decrease in the real value of shipments in plastics manufacturing. The marginal downtick in shipments reflects the capacity and commitment of the plastics industry to meet the demands of the manufacturing and consumer sectors, particularly in a stressful macroeconomic environment.”

The annual report features exclusive, new data on U.S. plastics manufacturing, plastics industry employment, and the outlook for plastics domestically. This year’s report showed the plastics industry’s continued, multi-decade track record of strength when compared to the overall U.S. manufacturing sector. Since 1997, the U.S. plastics industry has outpaced all of U.S. manufacturing in terms of growth in real shipments, real value added, productivity growth, and employment.

The 2021 Size & Impact Report includes state-level data and insights that demonstrate the industry’s geographic footprint. State highlights include Texas being home to the largest number of plastics employees with 70,500. The plastics industry is incredibly important for employment across the industrial Midwest. In Indiana, jobs in plastics account for 15.6 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs. Wisconsin is a close second in this regard, with 14.9 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs being in plastics, followed by Michigan and Ohio.

According to the report, the outlook for the plastics industry for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 will be linked to the global economic recovery. The global economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic underscored the importance of a well-functioning global supply chain. The plastics industry could continue to face labor and supply chain-related headwinds ahead.

The 2021 Size & Impact report and an executive summary are available for download at this link.


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