Reports: US Plastics Industry Maintained Trade Surplus, Expanded Jobs

The size of the US plastics industry expanded in 2018, accounting for 993,000 jobs and $451.3 billion worth of shipments. In the same year, it maintained a trade surplus of $500 million – an increasingly rare feat among manufacturing sectors – as consumption of plastics products continued to grow in the US.

Each of these figures are key insights included in two new reports released by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), Washington, DC. The 2019 Size & Impact of the US Plastics Industry focuses on the US market while Global Business Trends focuses on the US plastics industry’s position in the global market. Both reports contain forecasting data unique to PLASTICS, aimed to help its members identify new markets and trends in order to make better business decisions.

“Our ability to provide the most insightful, actionable data to our members is a big part of our value proposition. These two reports are the twin pillars that hold up the rest of our growing data apparatus,” said Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO of PLASTICS. “Taken together, the reports show a dynamic US plastics industry and a strong US economy where the demand for plastics and plastics products continues to grow.”

Though the US plastics industry is one of the only manufacturing sectors to have maintained a trade surplus for many years, in 2018 the surplus did shrink from $3 billion in 2017 to $500 million in 2018.

“A strong US dollar and sustained US economic expansion has increased the economy’s propensity to consume imported goods, in addition to the use of imported intermediate goods in US plastics manufacturing,” said PLASTICS Chief Economist Perc Pineda, Ph.D. “This caused imports to rise faster than exports, which shrank our surplus, but it also indicates strong demand for plastics. The 2019 Global Trends report also indicated that apparent consumption of plastics industry goods, calculated as the difference between shipments and exports plus imports, grew by 6.9% in 2018.”

Full copies of the reports can be purchased by nonmembers of PLASTICS and are free to PLASTICS members.

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