As we near the end of 2015, it’s worth taking a look back at how far our industry has come the past few years, and where we think American Chemistry will be in the years to come.
There’s no doubt that this is a transformative time for the U.S. chemical industry. Access to vast new supplies of American natural gas from shale deposits is one of the most exciting domestic energy developments in decades, particularly for the business of chemistry. The revolution in shale gas has fostered renewed competitiveness for U.S. basic chemicals, and positively impacted specialty chemical markets as well. In fact, chemical production grew this year by 3.6%, and we anticipate that growth will continue, rising nearly 3% in 2016 and surging through 2020.
Increased production means increased jobs, and for the third year in a row, chemical industry employment grew in 2015, with continued steady job gains expected through 2020, especially as new capacity from 261 new, announced projects and over $158 billion of investment comes online. And, because employees of the business of chemistry make 47% higher wages than the average manufacturing pay, growing payrolls will continue to strengthen local economies.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing – depreciation of the dollar, weakness in global markets, and a challenging first quarter in 2015 provided potential obstacles to the growth of the chemical industry this year. But despite these challenges, U.S. chemistry outpaced manufacturing gains in 2015.
In the overall economy, growth in consumer spending has accelerated, and the job market has started to firm, in part due to the economic contributions of our growing industry. Our industry’s commitment to the creation of ground-breaking products that make our lives and world healthier and safer means that our companies’ investment in innovation is continuing to grow, with more than $60 billion dollars invested in 2015.
So, what does all this mean? Put simply, as we enter 2016, the business of chemistry is flourishing, and with momentum building, our industry will continue to grow for the next several years, outpacing the growth of the overall U.S. economy.
For more information on the business of chemistry, check out ACC’s recent report, the “Year-End 2015 Chemical Industry Situation and Outlook”, prepared annually by ACC’s Economics and Statistics Department. The Year-End report is our annual review of the U.S. and global business of chemistry, offering global and domestic chemical industry data related to production, trade, shipments, capacity utilization, R&D spending, capital spending, employment and wages.