Chemical Industry Grows in May, Export Orders Down

Employment remains nearly flat with 1,200 nonproduction losses in the chemical sector, according to an American Chemistry Council report.

The U.S. chemical industry was one of the few manufacturing sectors reporting overall growth in May as orders increased, the American Chemistry Council reported Friday in its weekly economic analysis.

New orders for the chemical industry rose in May, but the recession in Europe caused a weakness in export orders, ACC reported, citing a recent ISM Manufacturing Survey.

"Beyond the U.S., Eurozone manufacturing continued to contract as concerns over Greece and Spain intensify," ACC economists reported. "China's purchasing managers' report disappointed as well. The overseas weakness is spreading and is showing up in commodity prices."

The S&P index for chemical companies fell by 5.8%. Overall, the S&P 500 index fell 6.3% during May, according to the report.

Employment in the U.S. chemical industry fell by 1,200 jobs, or 0.2%, in May to 796,100 workers. The losses were primarily nonproduction jobs as production employment held steady at 500,400 in May.

Overall labor input to the chemical industry fell slightly but was up 2.2% over May 2011.

Despite the challenges, ACC posted a positive rating for the chemical industry, giving it a "green banner."

A green banner indicates that at least 13 of 20 key economic indicators are positive for the industry.

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