The Chemical Industry in the United States
The chemical industry is one of the United States' largest manufacturing industries, serving both a sizable domestic market and an expanding global market. It is also one of the top exporting sectors of U.S. manufacturing. Accounting for 18 percent of global chemical shipments, the United States is a world leader in chemical production and exports.
The industry's more-than 13,000 firms produce 70,000+ products. In 2017, the U.S. chemical industry had final sales exceeding $765 billion and directly employed more than 529,000 workers, with additional indirect employment by industry suppliers of more than 1.8 million. Total FDI in the industry passed $700 billion in 2017. With investments of $99 billion in research and development in 2017, and a record of strong enforcement of intellectual property rights, the chemical industry accounts for a significant portion of patents granted in the United States.
Strong product identification and quality, access to low-cost natural gas, a highly educated workforce, world-class research centers, protection for intellectual property, and a robust regulatory system make the United States a competitive home for chemical firms from across the globe.
Specialty Chemicals: These include adhesives and sealants, water treatment chemicals, plastic additives, catalysts and coatings. These chemicals are performance-oriented and typically include customer/technical servicing as an aspect of their sales.
Agricultural Chemicals: These play a crucial role in the farm economy and the food processing sector. Thanks to modern agriculture, farmers have doubled the production of world food supplies since 1960, tripled the output of foods like cooking oils and meats, and increased per capita food supplies in the developing world by 25 percent.
Pharmaceuticals: These include diagnostics, prescription drugs, vaccines, vitamins, and over-the-counter drugs for human and veterinary applications. This subsector also includes biotechnology products. Strategic investment in companies, facilities, and research and development is especially important for this subsector.
Consumer Products: These include soaps, detergents, and cleaners, as well as toiletries and cosmetics. While consumer products are an established segment of the industry, technological innovation and product development are important due to short product life cycles.
Federal Programs & Legislation
Manufacturing Extension Partnership: The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) helps U.S. firms by providing individually tailored services to help companies improve their productivity, economic competitiveness and technological capabilities. The program leverages money and resources in a cooperative effort with the federal government, state and local authorities, and the private sector. The MEP generates approximately $18 in new sales growth for manufacturers for every federal dollar invested.
Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office: Through cost-shared projects, tools, training, and information, the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) works with a broad spectrum of public-private partners to develop and commercialize technologies/materials and practices that will result in increased energy productivity and savings for U.S. industry. Two of the AMOs research and development projects have chemical-related initiatives: the Innovative Process and Materials Technologies Project and the Next Generation Materials Project.
Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office: The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) works with a broad spectrum of government, industrial, academic, agricultural, and nonprofit partners across the United States to develop commercially viable, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower made from renewable U.S. biomass resources that reduce our dependence on imported oil while enhancing energy security.
Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business and Cooperative Service (RBSC): Among the Business Programs of the RBSC is the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (BAP or Section 9003 Program). The BAP provides loan guarantees to assist in the development of manufacturing facilities for advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased chemical products
Chemical Industry Associations
American Chemistry Council
American Cleaning Institute
American Coatings Association
American Composites Manufacturing Association
The Fertilizer Institute
American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers
Personal Care Products Council
The Polymers Center of Excellence
Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates
SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association
Chemical and Engineering News
Chemical Economics Handbook
Chemical Industry News: ICIS
Composites Manufacturing Magazine