The global chemical industry is one of the largest and most essential industries that we have in the world today. Americans are the largest domestic producers of chemical items globally. When you include the pharmaceutical sector for the industry, the output value totals more than $765 billion.
Chemical companies in the United States are some of the largest that you can find in the global industry. DowDuPoint is the second-largest in the world today, earning annual revenues of over $53 billion.
The only other business that is larger is the German chemical company BASF. Other names in this industry include Praxair and LyondellBasell. The United States also ranks second behind Germany as the largest exporter of chemical goods, with the American value listed at $130 billion. U.S. imports in 2017 were valued at $97 billion.
That means the chemical industry is an essential employer in the global economy. It provides about 811,000 direct jobs in the United States and hundreds of thousands of more employment opportunities worldwide. That figure has been dropping since the 1990s when about 1 million workers were reported.
Essential Chemical Industry Statistics
#1. The total value of chemical shipments from American providers in the chemical industry was $812.4 billion in 2017. That figure includes over $378 billion in value added by the manufacturing process. (Statista)
#2. The gross operating surplus for American chemical manufacturing in 2017 was $271.1 billion. (Statista)
#3. About 60% of the employment in the American chemical industry comes through the manufacturing process. Approximately 542,000 workers receive direct employment at an average hourly wage of $24.18 per hour. The average employee puts in almost 43 hours per week. (Statista)
#4. The chemical industry in the U.S. has more than 13,000 active firms as of 2017. Approximately 70,000 products reach the market through the efforts of these agencies. (SelectUSA)
#5. The chemical industry is an important contributor to other areas of the economy. Approximately 48% of the output generated by this sector is used by other industries, with a heavy emphasis on manufacturing. Another 38% gets directed toward private consumption. Only 12% is exported each year. (Deloitte)
#6. Over $231 billion in global mergers were announced in 2016 for the global chemicals industry, which is significantly more than the $145.8 billion that occurred in 2015. (Deloitte)
#7. Over $70 billion in mergers and acquisitions for the global chemical industry originated in Germany, as many conglomerates look to consolidate crucial positions or diversify product portfolios. (Deloitte)
#8. Despite the U.S. economy growing at a pace of 2.5% in 2019, the demand for chemicals is growing at a rate of just 0.5% for the year. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#9. 34% of the chemistry doctorates awarded in the United States by educational institutions went to people with a temporary visa. (U.S. National Science Foundation)
#10. New enrollments in graduate schools for programs that would direct students toward the chemical industry were down 5.5% in 2017-219, which was the second straight year of decreases. China sends the most students to the U.S. for learning opportunities, with over 363,000 currently in the country. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#11. Over $15 billion in Chinese plastics and chemicals are targeted by tariffs from the Trump Administration in 2019. The value of U.S. chemicals and plastics facing Chinese tariffs is more than $10 billion. (American Chemistry Council)
#12. China is the world’s largest market for basic plastic products. If tariff rates are in the 5% to 25% range, then it hurts the competitiveness of American companies in this area. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#13. Chemical manufacturers in the United States say that they increased capital expenditures by 6% in 2019. The availability of low-cost financing with an expectation of higher rates in the near future helped to drive this trend. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#14. Germany expects to see a 2.5% growth in overall sales from the chemical industry in 2019, which would be 5 times higher than other significant providers in this sector. Chemical prices are only rising by 1%. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#15. If Great Britain doesn’t come up with a deal to leave the European Union in a way that preserves trade, then up to 750,000 jobs in Germany and more throughout the continent would be placed at immediate risk of loss. (Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry)
#16. The chemical industry in the UK, including pharmaceuticals, exports over $60 billion annually. 60% of that figure goes directly to the European Union. About three-quarters of the United Kingdom’s chemical imports come from Europe. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#17. About 80% of the small businesses operating in the global chemical industry are unprepared for what would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#18. Saudi Aramco pledged $100 billion over 10 years toward new petrochemical projects, which is about 50% of what all chemical companies spent in the United States when shale gas boomed in 2010. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#19. Aramco plans to build one of the planet’s largest oil-refining and chemical complexes in India. The total cost of this project is $44 billion. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is investing $45 billion in chemicals with its partners to triple downstream capacity by 2025. (Chemical and Engineering News)
#20. The chemical industry contributed a total of $5.7 trillion to the global GDP in 2017, which is 7% of the overall Gross Domestic Product for the year. (Oxford Economics)
#21. Over 120 million jobs were supported by all aspects of the global chemical industry in 2017, reflecting a population that is about the same as Mexico. About 15 million people receive direct employment opportunities because of the activities of the industry. (Oxford Economics)
#22. When looking at the chemical industry’s contributions in terms of GDP, every $1 generated by this sector creates another $4.20 elsewhere in the global economy. (Oxford Economics)
#23. Companies in the global chemical industry spent $51 billion on research and development in 2017. This activity supported a contribution of $92 billion to the GDP, adding 1.7 million jobs around the world. (Oxford Economics)
#24. 95% of all manufactured goods rely on some form of industrial chemical processes. (ICCA)
#25. China spent the most on research and development in 2017 for the chemical industry, contributing $14.6 billion in total. The United States was second with a $12.1 billion contribution. These two countries were followed by Japan ($6.9 billion), Germany ($4.6 billion), and South Korea ($2.2 billion). (CEFIC)
#26. The chemical sector in the United States is one of the most patent-intensive industries in the world today. It was recorded at 0.027 in 2017, which is comparable to electric motors, medical appliances, generators, and other electronics. The median intensity for the American economy is 0.018. (Oxford Economics)
#27. The chemical industry transforms over 275 million tons of natural, raw materials into the products that we use every day. (American Chemistry Council)
#28. The typical automobile contains over $3,000 worth of chemistry. That figure includes about 340 pounds of plastic materials and polymer composites, along with 280 pounds of coatings, textiles, and rubber. (American Chemistry Council)
#29. Chlorine chemistry is an essential part of the manufacturing of prescription pharmaceuticals sold in the United States. About 88% of what gets sold to Americans goes through this process. Chlorine is also present in the final formulation of every 1 out of 4 drugs that the average person takes. (American Chemistry Council)
#30. Rubber and plastics make up the largest segment of the chemical industry, responsible for $65 billion in sales in the United States. Healthcare-related products brought in $42.1 billion, while pharmaceuticals were responsible for $38.2 billion. (American Chemistry Council)
#31. Despite its overall market size, China has only 7% of its workforce in the chemical industry with a tertiary education. The United States has 45% of its workforce at that level. (World Economic Forum)
#32. Only 5% of American workers in the chemical industry have a primary to lower secondary education. This figure is at 10% in Russia, but it rises to 45% when looking at the structure of the sector in India or China. (World Economic Forum)
#33. Russia has the highest level of workers at an upper secondary to post-secondary educational level, representing 82% of the workforce. (World Economic Forum)
#34. Workers in Japan earn about 50% less in the chemical industry when compared to employees operating in the United States. (World Economic Forum)
#35. The only market that pays workers more each year than the United States is Belgium. Employees there earn about $1,500 more per year than Americans do. (World Economic Forum)
#36. About 70% of the workers that have employment in the chemical industry are in a technical, STEAM-related role. (World Economic Forum)
#37. About 35% of the total sales earned by the global chemical industry are initiated by North America each year. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa provide 31% of the market. Latin America is responsible for 21%, while the Asia-Pacific region has the final 13%. (World Economic Forum)
#38. The Canadian chemical industry produces an annual value of $52 billion, supporting over 525,000 jobs indirectly throughout the country. About 90,000 people receive direct employment because of the activities of this sector. (Chemistry Industry Association of Canada)
#39. The chemical industry in Canada pays over $6 billion in wages and salaries each year, with most of the activity concentrated in Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario. (Chemistry Industry Association of Canada)
#40. Canada’s chemical industry saw a 4% increase in shipments in 2017, making it one of the strongest regions in the world. The sector saw growth in all regions of the country. (Chemistry Industry Association of Canada)
#41. The chemical industry in Canada was ranked fourth for the total value of shipments during 2017. They were behind transportation equipment at $133.6 billion, food at $99 billion, and petroleum refining at $62.6 billion. (Chemistry Industry Association of Canada)
#42. 75% of the executives working at chemical companies say that their primary activity for driving profitability is to cut costs somewhere in the production process. Only 9% of these leaders stated that they want to strengthen their technological or digital capabilities so that they could capitalize on new opportunities. (PwC)
#43. The chemical sector in Australia supplies 104 of the 108 recognized industries in the country. About 70% of the outputs are classified as inputs to other sectors. (Chemistry Australia)
#44. About 5,500 firms are active in Australia’s chemical industry, helping the sector to deliver $38 billion to the nation’s GDP each year. Over 60,000 people have employment because of these efforts, with approximately 75% of the positions in STEAM-relate areas. (Chemistry Australia)
#45. Every job in Australia’s chemical industry products another five positions in related supply chains. (Chemistry Australia)
#46. 30% of the largest chemical companies in the world today based on revenue are located in the United States as of 2019. (Statista)
#47. The average hourly wage of a chemical production worker in the United States was only $17.57 in 2001. That same worker is now making almost $7 per hour more in 2018. Wages have gone up every year except for 2012 (when they stayed the same) and 2013 when they decreased by more than $1 per hour. (Statista)
#48. Canada purchased $22.9 billion in chemical exports from the United States in 2018. Mexico bought another $22.6 billion. China ($11.8 billion), Brazil ($7.7 billion) and Japan ($6.4 billion) are also significant consumers of the American chemical industry.
Chemical Industry Trends and Analysis
Although the global economy has seen growth rates in some sectors that exceed 2% annually, the chemical industry has lagged behind since 2011. Trade in the related products from this sector has slowed since then, even experiencing a decline in 2015. Although exports from regions like the Middle East and China grew by more than 10%, Europe and the United States saw less than 5% growth at the same time.
Net chemical exports from Europe and the United States are seeing declines because of the strength of the U.S. dollar to the euro and the pound sterling. These challenging conditions open new opportunities for other areas of the world, but it also causes the net growth to remain stagnant.
The chemical industry’s contribution to the GDP has remained constant since the 1990s. This fact doesn’t appear ready to change in the next 5-year forecast. Expect growth rates in this sector to remain steady and at the pace of inflation. If the U.S. dollar grows weaker, then American commerce might increase. Should that not happen, look for countries like Saudi Arabia and China to fill in the missing gaps.
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