US plastics sector about halfway back to 2007 level of business

The U.S. plastics industry is recovering quickly from the Great Recession, but is still only about halfway back to the level of business it achieved in 2007, according to a report from the National Association of Manufacturers.

According to the Jan. 18 report from Dave Huether, NAM’s chief economist, 2010 was “a time of recovery for manufacturing in America.”

“After falling 17 percent during the recession, manufacturing production rose for six consecutive quarters through the fourth quarter of 2010. To date, the recovery has made up a little more than half (53 percent) of the production lost during the downturn and if the pace over the past year continues in 2011, overall manufacturing production should return to its prior peak in another year.”

But the report from Washington-based NAM notes that the depth of the downturn, and extent of the recovery, has varied.

Five industries that account for about one-quarter of U.S. manufacturing output — plastics, aerospace, electrical equipment motor vehicles and machinery — are only roughly half of the way back to their level of production in December 2007, according to the report.

On average, these industries fell 28 percent during the recession.

In contrast, three of the 19 major manufacturing industries (computer and electronic products, petroleum and coal products, and food and beverage products) have recovered, with their production now exceeding the level in December 2007. These industries account for 29 percent of manufacturing output, and they declined only an average of 7 percent during the recession.


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