Chemical products are essential to the production of a myriad of manufactured products. More than 96% of all manufactured goods are directly touched by the chemicals industry.1 The industry greatly influences our safe water supply, food, shelter, clothing, health care, computer technology, transportation, and almost every other facet of modern life.
The United States is the top chemical producer in the world, accounting for nearly one-fifth of world production.2 With chemical shipments reaching nearly $720 billion in 2010, the chemical industry provides over $226 billion to the U.S. GDP, approximately 2% of the total.3 The industry exported a record $171 billion in chemicals in 2010, accounting for 10% of all U.S. exports. On a value-added basis, it is the second largest U.S. manufacturing sector.
Most production of basic chemicals is concentrated along the Gulf Coast, where petroleum and natural gas feedstocks are available in refineries. Texas and Louisiana produce a majority of all primary petrochemicals. Production of other products, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers is more widely dispersed among the states.
The U.S. chemicals industry's end-use energy consumption (excluding electricity generation, transmission, and distribution losses) totaled almost 5.2 quadrillion Btu in 2006; accounting for about 24% of all energy use in U.S. manufacturing.4 According to the American Chemistry Council, the industry has reduced energy consumption by more than half since 1974.5
The chemicals industry is a keystone of the U.S. economy, converting raw materials (oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, minerals) into more than 70,000 different products. Chemicals are used to make a wide variety of consumer goods as well as thousands of products that are essential inputs to agriculture, manufacturing, computing, telecommunications, construction, and service industries.
Research and Development
The chemicals industry spent approximately $55 billion on R&D in 2010.2 The bulk of chemical R&D dollars are spent on product development. Basic and specialty chemical companies typically allocate 1% to 3% of their annual sales toward R&D.6
Chemistry companies in the United States directly employ 784,000 people and indirectly contribute 4.4 million jobs to the economy in chemistry-dependent industries.1 In 2010, the average wage for an employee in the chemistry industry was $81,900.1
1 American Chemistry Council, "Snapshot of the U.S. Chemistry Industry in the United States" (Washington, DC: American Chemistry Council, August 2011).
2 American Chemistry Council, "Chemistry Industry Facts and Figures" (Washington, DC: American Chemistry Council, July 2011).
3 Bureau of Economic Analysis, "GDP by Industry and Input-Output," U.S. Department of Commerce.
4 Energy Information Administration, "Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey 2006," U.S. Department of Energy.
5 American Chemistry Council, "Energy," published 2011, American Chemistry Council.
6 American Chemistry Council, Guide to the Business of Chemistry 2009 (Arlington, VA: American Chemistry Council, 2009).