The U.S. plastics industry held firm as the country's fourth-largest manufacturing market in 2004, in spite of shedding more than 500 companies and 60,000 workers in the previous three years.
According to an overview of two reports issued Jan. 27 by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington, the industry ``remains one of the largest manufacturing sectors, and demand for plastics remains strong.''
But officials also pointed out the need to work on such major issues as high energy costs and competition from ``a large influx'' of Chinese imports. ``While the industry is not on the brink of destruction, it is clear that these challenges must be addressed to stave off further and more significant declines,'' they said.
The top states for plastics employment now are Indiana and California, depending on how you measure.
In terms of raw total jobs, California is No. 1, with about 118,300 jobs, followed by Ohio at 100,100, Michigan at 85,800, Texas at 84,500 and Illinois at 83,200.
But Indiana's plastics industry accounts for a bigger chunk of that state's manufacturing sector than anywhere else in the country, so the Hoosier State holds the No. 1 position based on plastics concentration. Indiana has 21.6 plastics industry employees per thousand nonagricultural workers. No. 2 is Michigan at 20.1, followed by Ohio, 19.1; South Carolina, 17.6; and Wisconsin, 16.6.
California and Indiana also held the top spots in 2000, the last time SPI compiled its economic report.
In 2004, the U.S. plastics industry shipped $345 billion in goods and employed 1.3 million at almost 19,000 facilities. Plastics manufacturers also spent $8 billion on capital expenditures.
Overall plastic demand - including machinery, molds, products and resin - grew 6.7 percent in 2004, a rate twice as high as those seen in 2002 and 2003. The industry's trade surplus jumped to almost $3 billion in 2004, but its imbalance with China grew to $4 billion. In 2004, China accounted for 19 percent of U.S. plastic imports, but only 6 percent of exports.
The industry lost 582 manufacturing firms and 61,200 workers between 2002 and 2004.
>From 1980-2004, U.S. plastics manufacturing employment grew more than 1 percent, while total manufacturing employment slipped more than 1 percent. U.S. plastics manufacturing shipments also grew 3 percent, while total manufacturing shipments grew less than 1 percent.
The statistical reports are titled ``Size and Impact'' and ``Global Trends.''