The size of the U.S. 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, as consumption of plastics products continued to grow in the United States, according to two reports released by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), Washington, D.C.

The “2019 Size & Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry” focuses on the U.S. market while “Global Business Trends” focuses on the U.S. plastics industry’s position in the global market.

“These two reports are the twin pillars that hold up the rest of our growing data apparatus,” says Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO. “Taken together, the reports show a dynamic U.S. plastics industry and a strong U.S. economy where the demand for plastics and plastics products continues to grow.”

Though the U.S. 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 U.S. dollar and sustained U.S. economic expansion has increased the economy’s propensity to consume imported goods, in addition to the use of imported intermediate goods in U.S. plastics manufacturing," says Perc Pineda, chief economist. “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.”