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U.S. Chemical Production Higher in March; Production Increased in Five of Seven Regions


Contact: Patrick Hurston (202) 249-6506  
Email: patrick_hurston@americanchemistry.com

WASHINGTON (April 24, 2014) – According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in February, the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) was 0.2 percent higher in March. Five out of the seven producing regions saw production increases in March. Declines in the output along the Gulf Coast and Ohio Valley regions were more than offset by gains in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Southeast, and West Coast regions. Data released for March 2014 incorporate benchmark revisions of the industrial production data produced by the Federal Reserve.  
 
Manufacturing production accelerated in March as unusually harsh winter weather subsided. On a three-month moving average (3MMA), output of the nation’s overall manufacturing sector was 0.3 percent higher March, following a 0.2 percent increase in February. Within the manufacturing sector, output in several key chemistry end-use markets expanded, including aerospace, construction supplies, machinery, fabricated metal products, computers, semiconductors, plastic products and rubber products.

Also measured on a 3MMA basis, overall chemical production was again mixed. There were gains in the output of consumer products, industrial gases, pharmaceuticals, inorganic chemicals, adhesives and chlor-alkali. These gains were offset by declines in the production of organic chemicals, plastic resins, coatings, pesticides, fertilizers, and manmade fibers. Synthetic rubber production was flat. 

Compared to March 2013, total chemical production in all regions was up by 1.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, following a revised 0.8 percent gain in February. Chemical production was up from a year ago in all regions except the Gulf Coast. Comparing the first three months of 2014 to that in 2013, chemical production was up 0.8 percent nationally, with six of the seven regions posting gains.

The chemistry industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, a $770 billion enterprise. 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 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 March reflects production activity during January, February, and March.

Following an upwardly revised 0.1 percent decline in February, chemical production in the Gulf Coast region fell by 0.5 percent in March. March production was off by 0.6 percent from a year ago and down 0.9 percent 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, advantaged by shale gas development.

In the Midwest region, which is influenced by production of agricultural chemicals, plastics, paints, and other chemical products, chemical production increased 0.2 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in February. Compared to March 2013, Midwest chemical production was up by 1.7 percent, and up 1.3 percent on a year-to-date basis.

In the Ohio Valley region, largely influenced by production of basic chemicals, plastics and synthetic rubber, coatings, and consumer products, chemical production fell by 0.3 percent in March, following a 0.2 percent gain in February. Compared to March 2013, production in the region was up by 1.3 percent, and was also up 1.3 percent on a year-to-date basis.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, where pharmaceutical manufacturing is prominent, chemical production was higher by 0.5 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in February. Compared to March 2013, Mid-Atlantic chemical production was up 2.0 percent compared to a year ago and up 1.3 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 higher by 0.2 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain in February. Compared to March 2013, Southeast region chemical production was up 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis and was up 1.3 percent on a year-to-date basis.

In the Northeast region, which is influenced by pharmaceutical manufacturing and other specialty chemical manufacturing, chemical production rose by 0.4 percent during March, following an upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in February. Compared to March 2013, Northeast region chemical production was up by 2.2 percent on a year-over-year basis and up 1.6 percent on a year-to-date basis.

In the West Coast region, chemical production rose 0.5 percent in March, following an upwardly revised 0.9 percent gain in February. Chemical production in the West Coast region was up 2.6 percent from last year and was up 1.9 percent on a year-to-date basis.

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