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As talk turns to a post Brexit era, with potential trade deals a plenty across the Atlantic, it’s interesting to understand, given its worth to the UK economy, both the size and scale of the US Chemical industry. Here are a few facts about the US Chemical Industry.

The US imports more than it exports(1)

Chemical output value, including pharmaceuticals, was worth more than $765 billion (bn) in 2017.  This makes the US the largest national producer of chemical products globally.  Looking at value added by US chemical manufacturing, this figure sits at around $354 bn.

In terms of export, the US is the second largest exporter with the total value of US chemical exports in 2016 at $173 bn(2), with the state contributing the largest share of that being Texas, versus a total import value of $97.1 bn, up from $93bn in 2016 and $95bn in 2015.

Employment has fallen since 2017(1)

The chemical manufacturing sector in 2019 employs over half a million people, 542,000, but this number has fallen quite dramatically since 2017, where it sat firmly at around 800,000 and had done so for the ten years prior. In 1998, the number was just short of 1m workers.

The position of firms in the top 10, tends to fluctuate (3)

Although the fortunes of firms has varied over the last couple of decades, DowDupont is by far the largest manufacturer with sales of $86,000m in 2018, with ExxonMobil next with sales of $32,445m in 2018.  These two have remained the top two manufacturers since 2005.  For other major players, their positions tend to fluctuate, in 2018 Chevron Philips [3] had sales of $11,310m, Eastman [4] $10,500m and Huntsman [6] $9,379m.

However, the sector continues to expand (4)

According to american.chemistry.com, the outlook for the chemical sector for the remainder of 2019 and beyond is positive, predicting growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 3% in 2020, despite challenges in the global economy.  Even with a slowdown in chemical exports, new capital investment is being made in part thanks to growth in domestic end use markets.  Overall there are expected to be gains in output from organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals and other specialty chemicals, whereas production of agricultural chemicals and consumer products will fall slightly before recovering in 2020.


(1) statista.com

(2)  joc.com

(3)  chemical and engineering news

 (4)  american.chemistry.com