According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) grew 0.3 percent in February. Following flat growth in January due to harsh winter weather, February’s CPRI showed growth in six out of seven regions. There was a modest decline in the Gulf Coast compared to January, but this was offset by gains in other regions.
On a three-month moving average (3MMA), output of the nation’s overall manufacturing sector was flat in February, following a 0.1 percent decline in January. A tough winter and distribution disruptions curtailed manufacturing activity in many parts of the country. Within the manufacturing sector, output in several key chemistry end-use markets expanded, including aerospace, machinery, computers, plastic and rubber products, paper, and printing.
Also measured on a 3MMA basis, overall chemical production was again mixed. Gains in the output of chlor-alkali, industrial gases, dyes and pigments, acids, consumer products, coatings, adhesives, pesticides and pharmaceuticals and other specialties, were offset by lower production of organic chemicals, fertilizers, plastic resins, synthetic rubber and manmade fibers.
Compared to February 2013, total chemical production in all regions was ahead by 0.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, following a revised 0.1 percent gain in January. Chemical production was up on a year-over-year basis in the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Southeast, and West Coast. Production was lower in the Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic regions and flat in the Northeast. Comparing the first two months of 2014 to that in 2013, chemical production was up 0.2 percent nationally, with four 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 February reflects production activity during December, January, and February.
Following a downwardly revised 0.6 percent decline in January, chemical production in the Gulf Coast region slipped by 0.2 percent in February. February production was off by 1.1 percent from a year ago and down 1.2 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 0.3 percent in February, following a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in January. Compared to February 2013, Midwest chemical production was up by 0.2 percent, and up 0.1 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 expanded by 0.2 percent in February, following flat growth in January. Compared to February 2013, production in the region was up by 1.4 percent, and was also up 1.2 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 February, following a downwardly revised 0.2 percent gain in January. Compared to February 2013, Mid-Atlantic chemical production was down 0.2 percent year-over-year basis and down 0.4 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 0.3 percent in February, following a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain during January. Compared to February 2013, Southeast region chemical production was up 1.1 percent on a year-over-year basis and was up 0.9 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 0.5 percent during February, following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in January. Compared to February 2013, Northeast region chemical production was flat on a year-over-year basis and off 0.2 percent on a year-to-date basis.
In the West Coast region, chemical production rose 0.5 percent in February, following a 0.3 percent gain in January. Chemical production in the West Coast region was up 0.3 percent from last year and was up 0.2 percent on a year-to-date basis.