From this week's C&EN, the ACC's latest projections for 2021 and beyond (article by Craig Bettenhausen):
The US chemical industry is a few months into recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but full recuperation won’t happen until 2023.
That’s the view from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the US chemical industry’s main trade association. US chemical sales should recover this year, the ACC says, with a projected total of $525 billion, not including pharmaceuticals, up from $486 billion in 2020 and $509 billion in 2019. But employment, capital expenditures, and production volumes won’t return to prepandemic levels until late 2022 or early 2023, ACC predicts.
The article notes that the US chemical industry lost 14,800 jobs during 2020. Considering that the level of employment of all employees in chemical manufacturing during January 2020 was 854,700, that's a pretty minimal loss.
The ACC expects strong chemical demand through 2021 from consumer-focused industries such as auto, construction, and durable goods. That notion is supported by projections from the World Bank, which said in June that the overall US gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of economic growth, will be up by 6.8% for the year.
Moore’s colleague, Kevin Swift, warns that inflation could constrain recovery in the US and worldwide. He says a related concern among his peers at other industry groups is employee and supply shortages. “It’s all they talk about. They can’t get labor, they can’t get materials.” Swift calls out foams, semiconductors, and lumber as being in especially short supply, with the kinked supply chains expected to continue at least into the fall.
I imagine that labor shortages are short-term good for chemists?