Sept. 22, 2021
Despite pandemic, the industry remains a top sector in U.S. economy, according to the 2021 Size & Impact Report.
The plastics industry is still among the largest U.S. economic sectors and it has retained its footing on a path toward strong growth, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) announced in its 2021 Size & Impact Report.
In his introduction to the report during a webinar Sept. 21, PLASTICS President and CEO Tony Radoszewski noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a test, but the plastics industry has proven its resilience. “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.”
PLASTICS Chief Economist Perc Pineda, who authored the report, said the plastics industry accounted for shipments of $394.7 billion in 2020, while upstream industries generated another $146.9 billion, bringing the total shipments of the plastics industry to $541.6 billion.
“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a thriving U.S. economy, affecting many industries including plastics,” Pineda said. “This resulted in an estimated 0.9 percent 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.” However, the report said real plastics industry shipments are expected to rise 2.2 percent this year.
Citing the time period between 1997 and 2020, the report showed the U.S. plastics industry has outperformed all of U.S. manufacturing in terms of growth in real shipments, real value added, productivity growth and employment.
The report said jobs to supply goods and services in the plastics industry totaled 945,300 in 2020, while another 606,300 jobs were in upstream industries, putting the full employment impact of the plastics industry at just over 1.55 million jobs.
Plastics manufacturing employment grew 1.2 percent per year from 2010 to 2020, marking it as a success story for the U.S. economy.
Texas led all states in plastics employment, boasting a workforce of 70,500, with Ohio close behind and California running third.
According to the report, after adjusting for inflation, real plastics manufacturing shipments grew annually at a rate of 0.7 percent from 2010 to 2020, and despite the pandemic there was an annual growth of 1.4 percent for real value added.
Looking ahead, Pineda expects the plastics industry to continue its growth in 2022 and 2023, keeping pace with the recovering global economy.
Pineda sees the major potential hurdles as continued supply chain difficulties, materials shortages and the ongoing lack of labor supply. However, the industry is likely to get a boost from the recovery of the domestic economy, which is outpacing expectations, and the improved economic outlook for major U.S. plastics trade partners.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” Radoszewski said, “plastic is one of the most advanced and useful materials humanity has ever created, contributing to longer, healthier and better lives for people across the globe.”