WASHINGTON — According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) was flat in September, following no growth in August. Chemical production declined in all regions except the Gulf Coast and Ohio Valley regions, which posted gains.
Output of the nation’s overall manufacturing sector slipped by 0.1 percent in September based on a three month moving average, following a 0.1 percent decline in August. Within the manufacturing sector, output in several key chemistry end-use markets increased, including aerospace, construction materials, furniture, plastic products, and paper. Manufacturing, which had been a driver of growth over the past two years, has weakened in recent months as the slowdown in the global economy intensifies and uncertainty continues about the investment environment following the U.S. elections.
A three-month moving average also showed that chemical production was mixed. Gains in the output of organic chemicals, pesticides, industrial gases, plastic resins, man-made fibers and synthetic rubber were offset by lower production of fertilizers, coatings, adhesives, inorganic chemicals, consumer products, and pharmaceuticals.
Compared to September 2011, total chemical production in all regions was off by 0.5 percent, reflecting a worsening year-over-year comparison. The year-over-year comparisons were ahead in the Gulf Coast and Ohio Valley regions, but continued to weaken. Year-over-year comparisons moved deeper into negative territory in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Northeast and West Coast regions. On a year-to-date basis (comparing the first nine months of 2012 with those a year ago), chemical production was up 0.2 percent nationally, with only the Ohio Valley and Northeast regions ahead on a year-to-date basis.
The chemical industry is a $760 billion enterprise making it one of the largest industries in the United States. The manufacturing sector is the largest consumer of chemical products, and 96 percent of manufactured goods are touched by chemistry.
The U.S. CPRI was developed by Moore Economics to track chemical production activity in seven regions of the United States. It is comparable to the U.S. industrial production index for chemicals published by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. CPRI is based on information from the Federal Reserve. To smooth month-to-month fluctuations, the U.S. CPRI is measured using a three-month moving average (3MMA). Thus, the reading in September reflects production activity during July, August, and September.
U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index, Percentage Change (Seasonally adjusted, 3-month moving average)
Following a revised 0.5 percent gain in August, chemical production in the Gulf Coast region was up by 0.2 percent in September. Compared to a year ago, production was up 0.9 percent, but was flat on a year-to-date basis. The Gulf Coast region is dominated by the production of key building block materials, such as petrochemicals, inorganics, and synthetic materials.
In the Midwest region, which is influenced by production of agricultural chemicals, plastics, paints, and other chemical products, chemical production slipped by 0.1 percent during September, following a 0.1 percent decline in August. Compared to September 2011, Midwest chemical production was down by 1.0 percent, and was off 0.3 percent on a year-to-date basis.
In the Ohio Valley region, which is largely influenced by production of basic chemicals, plastics and synthetic rubber, coatings, and consumer products, chemical production edged up by 0.1 percent in September, following a 0.2 percent gain in August. Compared to September 2011, production in the region was up by 1.7 percent, and was up 1.7 percent on a year-to-date basis.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, where pharmaceutical manufacturing is prominent, chemical production slipped by 0.2 percent in September, following a 0.3 percent decline in August. Compared to September 2011, Mid-Atlantic chemical production was off 1.9 percent, and was off 0.7 percent on a year-to-date basis.
In the Southeast region, which is influenced heavily by production of basic chemicals, fibers, agricultural and other chemical products, chemical production edged down by 0.1 percent in September, following a 0.2 percent decline during August. Compared to September 2011, Southeast region chemical production was off by 1.1 percent year-over-year, and off by 0.1% on a year-to-date basis.
In the Northeast region, which is influenced by pharmaceutical manufacturing and other specialty chemical manufacturing, chemical slipped by 0.2 percent during September, after falling 0.3 percent in August. Compared to September 2011, Northeast region chemical production was off 1.4 percent, but was remained ahead by 0.2 percent on a year-to-date basis.
In the West Coast region, chemical production declined by 0.3 percent in September, after falling 0.5 percent in August. Chemical production in the West Coast region was off 2.4 percent from last year, and remained down 0.8 percent on a year-to-date basis.