According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) expanded by 0.2 percent in March, following a 0.4 percent decline in February, and a 0.6 percent decline in January, as measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. During March, chemical output moved higher in all regions, except the Gulf Coast which saw a decline and the Southeast region that experienced flat growth. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions posted the highest growth during the month.
Chemical production was mixed over the same three month period. There were gains in the production three-month moving average output trend of basic inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, industrial gases, synthetic rubber, synthetic dyes and pigments, coatings, consumer products. These gains were offset by declines in the output trend in pesticides, fertilizers, manufactured fibers, adhesives, and plastic resins.
Nearly all manufactured goods are produced using chemistry in some form or another. Thus, manufacturing activity is an important indicator for chemical production. On a 3MMA basis, manufacturing activity edged higher by 0.4 percent in March, following a 0.7 percent gain in February. Output expanded in several chemistry-intensive manufacturing industries, including food and beverages; motor vehicles; construction supplies; fabricated metal products; computers and electronics; semiconductors; petroleum refining; iron and steel; foundries; plastic products; structural panels; apparel; and furniture.
Compared to March 2017, U.S. chemical production was ahead 3.3 percent on a year-over-year basis, an easing trend. Chemical production continues to pull ahead of year ago levels in all regions.
The chemistry industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, a $768 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. The U.S. CPRI is based on information from the Federal Reserve, and as such, includes monthly revisions as published by the Federal Reserve. To smooth month-to-month fluctuations, the U.S. CPRI is measured using a three-month moving average. Thus, the reading in March reflects production activity during January, February, and March.