Industry, the Economy, and Coronavirus | AIChE

Industry, the Economy, and Coronavirus


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a staggering impact on the U.S. economy over the past few months. This spring, more than 30 million American workers lost their jobs, a number unheard of since the Great Depression. The U.S. is now officially in a recession — a result of sharp declines in economic activity.

The onslaught of coronavirus cases has also affected the chemical industries, as well as equipment manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) declined sharply in March by 8.9%, followed by 6.3% in April and 0.3% in May.

These numbers are unprecedented in the almost-ten-year history of the CAB. The CAB is a composite economic indicator that is based on various measures of chemical industry activity, including production, equity prices, product prices, inventories, and other data.

However, these numbers suggest a potential plateauing of economic decline. “We’re very encouraged that the May reading was less negative than April,” says Martha Moore, an economist at ACC. “Hopefully, this indicates that the sharp decline has bottomed out....

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