ACC Report: Chemical Shipments Down; Jobs, Construction Increase

Economic indicators tracked by a chemical industry group had a mixed week to start the month of March, with employment and construction gains and declines in chemical shipments.

Economic indicators tracked by a chemical industry group had a mixed week to start the month of March, with employment and construction gains and declines in chemical shipments.

The American Chemistry Council's weekly economic trends report showed shipments of chemicals down 1.3 percent in January compared to the previous month, despite a 1.3 percent gain in the pharmaceutical sector.

Without pharmaceuticals factored in, chemical shipments decreased 2.1 percent compared to December and 3.3 percent compared to January 2014. Inventories of both chemicals and pharmaceuticals also fell in January.

According to more recent data, however, railcar loads of chemical products increased for the final week in February and numbers for the year to date increased 3 percent compared to the first two months of 2014. The ACC considers railcars the best indicator of "real-time" economic activity.

In addition, the Institute for Supply Management reported the chemical industry expanded last month, with increased employment and hours worked. Federal statistics showed the chemical industry had 14,300 more payroll jobs in February than the same month in 2014.

Spending on chemical manufacturing projects and construction related to chemical production also increased sharply compared to the first months of 2014. The nearly 60 percent jump in manufacturing projects, the ACC said, reflected "the massive investment in new chemical manufacturing capacity motivated by the U.S. shale gas advantage."
 

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