Positive Growth Continues for U.S. Plastics Manufacturing

Interested in the size and impact of the U.S. plastics industry as well as global business trends, partners and hot products? Well, here are some details from a recent SPI report.


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An in-depth data analysis of the plastics industry’s 2012 performance globally and in the U.S. is detailed in SPI's new reports, “The Definition, Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry,” and “Global Business Trends, Partners, Hot Products.”

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

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 $373 billion in goods and invested more than $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 $237.6 billion in 2011 to $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.  

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

Other numbers from the reports:

$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

$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