US plastics industry shows gains, but uncertainty clouds 2013 outlook

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Materials, Machinery, Molds/Tooling

WASHINGTON (Dec. 13, 5:10 p.m. ET) — The U.S. plastics industry broke a long losing streak in 2011, increasing its jobs total for the first time since 1999. Some of that good fortune continued into 2012, as exports of molds and machinery each posted solid gains in the first nine months of the year.

In 2012, the U.S. industry employed 885,000 — an increase of 9,000, or 1 percent vs. 2010. Officials with the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. said they had no exact data regarding the jobs gain. During a Dec. 13 press webinar, SPI officials also unveiled data that showed the value of plastic-related shipments grew 11 percent to more than $380 billion during 2011.

The first nine-months of 2012 brought a gain of almost 18 percent in the value of exported molds, and a rise of almost 8 percent in the value of exported machinery.

“The data shows that the plastics industry as a whole is resilient and has fared better than other manufacturing sectors,” SPI President Bill Carteaux said.

Some challenges remain, however, mostly in the form of uncertainty felt as President Obama and Congress struggle with the “fiscal cliff,” which could eliminate tax breaks and institute automatic spending cuts.

“Our members want a long-term budget deal and for our elected officials to handle the deficit and the national debt,” Carteaux said. “The fiscal cliff has massive implications for our industry. The U.S. plastics industry can’t afford the status quo. We need to re-ignite the growth we saw in the first half of 2012.”

In spite of the growth in molds and machinery, overall U.S. plastics exports basically were flat this year. Through September, exports have grown only 0.2 percent. “Exports are slowing because of uncertainty,” Carteaux added.

The 2011 shipment value total was more than 26 percent higher than the 2005 level. The total number of plastics jobs, while up from 2010, was almost 20 percent under 2005, when the sector employed more than 1.1 million.

In other data, the ranking of U.S. states with the most plastics jobs remained unchanged in 2011. California led the way with almost 75,000 jobs, followed by Ohio, Texas, Michigan and Illinois. In job concentration, Indiana again topped the U.S, with 15.4 plastics jobs per 1,000 non-farm workers, followed by Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and South Carolina.

Concentration of plastics jobs has been increasing by a sizable amount in Nebraska, Alabama, Connecticut and Vermont, while that same ratio has been declining in Mississippi, New Hampshire, Kansas and Missouri, according to SPI senior international trade director Michael Taylor.

SPI also tracked the United States’ fastest-growing plastics export partners between 2010 and 2011. The top five on that list were Venezuela, Singapore, Nigeria, Russia and Vietnam, each of which were up at least 25 percent. Going back to 2000, the biggest gainers in that category are Algeria, Vietnam, India, Nigeria and Russia, each of which were up at least 700 percent.

In 2011, the top 5 export destinations for American plastic shipments were Mexico, Canada, China, Belgium and Brazil. Those five accounted for 62 percent of exports. Exports increased in 2011 to each of those countries with the exception of Belgium. Brazil’s appearance was the first in the top 5, where it replaced Japan. Recent free trade agreements between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia and Panama — as well as improved trade relations with Russia — should allow export growth to remain healthy, Taylor said.

The top 5 import sources for plastic shipments into America in 2011 were Canada, China, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Those five accounted for 74 percent of the import total. Plastic imports into the U.S. overall were down slightly in 2011.

The U.S. plastics market posted a surplus again in 2011, but as has been the case in prior years, all of that surplus came from resin sales. The U.S. industry again ran deficits in plastic products, molds and machinery.


Comments

US plastics industry shows gains, but uncertainty clouds 2013 outlook

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

A. Schulman reports growth in sales and profit

October 22, 2014 7:58 pm ET

Executives with materials maker A. Schulman Inc. have to be smiling after seeing full results for the firm's 2014 fiscal year.    More

Image

PolyOne takes on LED lighting

October 22, 2014 4:23 pm ET

PolyOne Corp. is making inroads into LED lighting applications with its Therma-Tech-brand material technology.    More

Image

Sales, orders climbing for Wittmann Battenfeld

October 22, 2014 4:04 pm ET

Equipment maker Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH expects sales this year to increase 7 percent, to 295 million euros, as it said some key markets, including...    More

Image

Bergen International adds manufacturing space, extrusion line

October 22, 2014 3:42 pm ET

Chemical foaming agent manufacturer Bergen International LLC recently doubled its manufacturing capacity, added an extrusion line and laboratory...    More

Image

DuPont materials taking more ground in auto, medical, electronics

October 22, 2014 2:41 pm ET

Materials made by DuPont Co. are making inroads with products ranging from auto coolant pipes to circuit breakers to surgical devices.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events