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ACC: US chemical volumes to slump

According to the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Mid-Year 2020 Chemical Industry Situation & Outlook, chemical volumes will contract by 9.3% this year, while shipments will decline by 13.5% on the back of a shrinking GDP and demand in key end use industries. Next year, they will grow by 12.3% and 14.5% respectively as the economy rebounds.

“US industrial activity started the year on a weak note even before COVID-19-related supply disruptions emerged in February,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “After suffering the sharpest pullback on record in April, many industrial sectors are showing signs of recovery. Industrial production is set to fall 10.5% in 2020 before increasing by 3.1% in 2021.”

The ACC also projected that capital spending in the industry will fall 17.6% to $29.0 billion in 2020, then increase by 15.7% to $33.5 billion in 2021. Exports will fall by 14.5% in 2020 before rising 10.9% in 2021; imports will fall 19.1% and grow by 11.9% next year. Full recovery is expected in late 2022 or 2023. Meanwhile, chemical industry employment is expected to fall by nearly 20,000 (3.6%) in 2020 and will only recover to pre-COVID levels in 2024.

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