PLASTICS Releases 2021 Size & Impact Report Indicates Continued Growth

September 21, 2021

U.S. plastics industry accounts for $394.7 billion in shipments in 2020 and 945,300 jobs

WASHINGTON—The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) today released its much-anticipated 2021 Size & Impact Report at a webinar attended by Association members, non-members within the industry, and members of the media. The 2021 report indicates that the U.S. plastics industry remains one of the largest sectors of the American economy and continues on a strong growth path.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult test for the plastics industry, but it has proven our durability and resilience as the data continues to demonstrate our positive impact on America’s economy,” said Tony Radoszewski, President & CEO of the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). “We’re the 8th largest industry in the country and accounted for almost one million jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in shipments last year.”

This year’s report indicates that the U.S. plastics industry accounted for $394.7 billion in shipments in 2020 and 945,300 jobs. When suppliers to the U.S. plastics industry are included, the total shipments figure balloons to $541.5 billion and 1.55 million jobs. According to the most recent data, the plastics industry is the eighth largest industry in America.

“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a thriving U.S. economy affecting many industries including plastics,” said Perc Pineda, PhD, Chief Economist of PLASTICS. “This resulted in an estimated 0.9% decrease in the real value of shipments in plastics manufacturing. The marginal downtick in shipments reflects the capacity and commitment of the plastics industry to meet the demands of the manufacturing and consumer sectors, particularly in a stressful macroeconomic environment.”

The annual report features exclusive, new data on U.S. plastics manufacturing, plastics industry employment, and the outlook for plastics domestically. This year’s report showed the plastics industry’s continued, multi-decade track record of strength when compared to the overall U.S. manufacturing sector. Since 1997, the U.S. plastics industry has outpaced all of U.S. manufacturing in terms of growth in real shipments, real value added, productivity growth, and employment.

The 2021 Size & Impact Report includes state-level data and insights that demonstrate the industry’s geographic footprint. State highlights include Texas being home to the largest number of plastics employees with 70,500. The plastics industry is incredibly important for employment across the industrial Midwest. In Indiana, jobs in plastics account for 15.6 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs. Wisconsin is a close second in this regard, with 14.9 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs being in plastics, followed by Michigan and Ohio.

According to the report, the outlook for the plastics industry for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022 will be linked to the global economic recovery. The global economic slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic underscored the importance of a well-functioning global supply chain. The plastics industry could continue to face labor and supply chain-related headwinds ahead.

The 2021 Size & Impact Report and an Executive Summary are available for download HERE.


About Plastics Industry Association

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, representing nearly one million workers in the $395 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 the largest plastics trade show in the Americas, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit Connect with PLASTICS on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.