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Plastics & Rubber Products

We next consider job losses in plastics and rubber products manufacturing (NAICS 326).  Here we find an array of seemingly ubiquitous products (recall the one word of advice given to Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate: “Plastics”) including plastic bottles, bags, film, packaging, pipes, plates, sheets, and shapes, plumbing fixtures, and table ware; plastic components of transportation, electrical, electronic, construction, machinery, furniture, and other industrial, consumer, institutional, and commercial products; polystyrene and polyurethane foam products; and rubber products including tires, hoses, and belting, automotive and other mechanical goods. 

American plastics products and rubber products plants, which employed 1,035,600 workers at the beginning of 1990, employed an average 803,600 in 2014.  The following figure illustrates those job losses:  



After a dip following the 1990-91 recession, we see a robust increase through the economic expansion of the 1990s, to a peak of 950,858 jobs in 2000.  Following is a disastrous fall-off beginning after 2000 marked by a sharp break in the curve, coincident with the 2001 recession and the granting of permanent most favored nation status and WTO membership to China.  This drop is followed by a pause and another steep fall-off during 2003-2008, and then another disastrous fall-off beginning with the start of the Great Recession in 2008, to a low of 624,542 jobs in 2009, for a loss of some 200,000 jobs since 1990, and of 326,000 jobs from the peak of 2000.  Since the low of 2009, employment has seen a recovery of 50,000 of the 326,000 jobs lost since 2000, to an average of 674,075 jobs in 2014.

Key Finding:

Between 2000 and 2014, the plastics and rubber products industries[i] shed 29% of their employment, some 277,000 jobs in all.


GO TO nonmetal mineral products.


[i] Industries in the Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing subsector make goods by processing plastics materials and raw rubber. The core technology employed by establishments in this subsector is that of plastics or rubber product production. Plastics and rubber are combined in the same subsector because plastics are increasingly being used as a substitute for rubber; however the subsector is generally restricted to the production of products made of just one material, either solely plastics or rubber.  The plastics and rubber products manufacturing subsector consists of these industry groups: Plastics Product Manufacturing (NAICS 3261) and Rubber Product Manufacturing (NAICS 3262).  [North American Industry Classification System, published at]


News and Events

May 15, 2014, Ontario, CA - MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, delivered the keynote address at the 20th annual World Trade Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the California Inland Empire District Export Council in Ontario, California.  To view the conference agenda, click here:

New file download

May 7, 2015, Radnor, PA.  MIAA's founder, Jim Stuber, appeared as the guest of host Richard J. Anthony, Sr. on The Entrepreneur's Network TV at Radnor Studio 21.  The program featured a discussion of the problems caused by offshoring manufacturing and white collar jobs and how consmers can solve the problem with their spending decisions. 

Studio 21 has made the program available for viewing here:

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