Wed January 9, 2019

The U.S. plastics industry remains a key part of the American economy, accounting for an estimate of $432.3 billon in shipments and 989,000 workers in 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. January 9, 2019—The U.S. plastics industry accounted for an estimate of $432.3 billion in shipments and 989,000 jobs in 2017, according to the 2018 Size & Impact Report, an annual publication of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). Shipments increased by an estimated 6.9 percent in 2017, while total employment increased 2.4 percent in the same period. As a standard practice, PLASTICS provides an industry estimate based on a complete set of data covering the previous year.

At the state level, California remained the state with the most plastics industry employment, increasing from 77,000 workers in 2016 to an estimated 78,500 in 2017. Ohio came in second with 77,100 workers and Texas came in third with an estimated 76,800. Like last year, Indiana had the highest concentration of plastics industry workers, with an estimated 16.9 plastics employees for every 1,000 non-farm workers. Michigan was a close second, with 16.8 plastics employees per 1,000 non-farm workers.

“The fact that the industry continues to grow shows how effective these products are in their intended use,” said Interim President and CEO of PLASTICS Patty Long. “We are calling on the 116th Congress to advance a stimulus package to help increase the domestic capacity for recycling plastics. This will help recover more material, increase jobs, and meet growing demand for recycled content while helping the environment by reducing the amount of plastics needlessly heading to landfills.”

Throughout, the report shows that the U.S. plastics industry remains a key part of the American economy and continues to navigate its way to growth and hiring despite the presence of several social, political and economic challenges. Furthermore, the report shows when suppliers to the industry are included, the employment total grows to an estimated 1.81 million and shipments grow to $590.6 billion. Compared to 2016, this marks a 2.8-percent increase in jobs and a 7.0-percent increase in shipments.

“The fact that these figures grew so sharply in 2017 is a testament to the industry’s overall economic activity during that period of time, and to its ability to expand its impact into areas that might not occur to most,” said PLASTICS Chief Economist Perc Pineda, PhD. “The impact of the industry ripples out far beyond its government-defined borders.”

The executive summary of the U.S. Size & Impact Report is available online here and the full report, which includes forecasts for the coming year and other economic projections, is available on our website here.  


The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), formerly SPI, is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, representing nearly one million workers in the $432 billion U.S. industry. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability. To learn more about PLASTICS’ education initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, networking opportunities and policy advocacy, and North America’s largest plastics trade show, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit Connect with PLASTICS on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.