The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the US and world economies into the worst recession in decades, and the US chemical industry will see a sharp decline before rebounding next year, according to the an updated outlook from the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
The trade association’s baseline prediction is for a 9.3% decline in US chemical production volume this year. Its pessimistic outlook, in which COVID-19 cases start spiking again, is for a 14.7% production decline, and its optimistic scenario, where the economy benefits from a V-shaped recovery, is for a 7.0% decline. The US industry, the ACC predicts, will cut about 20,000 jobs this year, a decline of 3.6%. Capital spending, as companies tighten their belts and delay projects, will decline about 17.6%, to $29 billion.
This is a far cry from the ACC’s prediction in December that US production will increase by 0.4% this year. “COVID-19 has obviously changed that,” says Martha Moore, senior director of policy analysis and economics. “It has spread to every corner. And the government-imposed lockdowns have caused just this collapse in economic activity. It’s the deepest recession we have seen since the 1930s.”
The ACC expects global economic activity to decline 4.6% in 2020 and then surge 5.3% in 2021, assuming the world gets over the pandemic. The US will see a 6.0% economic decline this year, followed by 4.6% growth next year. “We think that a recovery is already underway, that activity has bottomed out,” Moore says...Here's hoping it's a short, very sharp decline in the chemical industry, and the job losses (or lack of job growth) don't impact chemists very much.