2nd Quarter 2015


Jones College logo


See interactive [map and charts ]



The competitiveness of the state industry can be seen by the fact that it is slowly but steadily accounting for a larger share of total American chemical exports.


 

Chemical Exports continued

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | previous | next

The other half of the state’s chemical exports involve resins and artificial fibers. In this half, the leading products include artificial filament tow (about $675 million, much of this from cellulose acetates), polyesters ($460 million), polyamides (that’s nylon to us laypersons, at $186 million), and polypropylenes ($115 million). The resin and fiber exports are growing a bit more rapidly than basic chemicals and are slowly becoming the larger segment of overall chemical exports.

The percentage of all state exports that come from the chemical sector has remained fairly steady over recent years and is virtually the same today as it was at the start of the century. Tennessee remains unusually reliant on chemical exports. As noted, chemicals constitute 13.4 percent of the value of all state exports compared to just 9 percent nationally. The competitiveness of the state industry can be seen by the fact that it is slowly but steadily accounting for a larger share of total American chemical exports. Today a bit more than 3 percent of all U.S. chemical exports come from Tennessee. That is a quarter higher (.5 percent) than it was 10 years ago.

So where in Tennessee do we find this industry? We have constructed a map of Tennessee chemical exporters by zip code. It reveals some clear patterns. The industry is more geographically concentrated than the automotive industry, which we examined last issue. A handful of counties account for a very significant portion of the export activity. Contrary to those who believe the industry to be mostly located in more rural areas, in fact most state chemical exporters are just outside the state’s major cities. (The small size of the zip codes in these areas means you may have to hover over those regions to see the extent of the activity.) The two exceptions to this pattern are the large number of chemical exporters in the Oak Ridge area and the significant number of exporters in the belt that stretches from Manchester to Lewisburg (roughly). Elsewhere in the state, the number of chemical exporters is much smaller.

The Tennessee chemical industry has long been a backbone of the state’s export performance. As we see, it remains very competitive in global markets, even if its numbers recently have been a bit overshadowed by several other “star” export industries. The slow rise in the percentage of American chemical exports coming out of Tennessee suggests the industry is also very competitive compared to other regions of the U.S. For these reasons, we should expect the chemical sector to remain a significant part of Tennessee’s export economy.

[ See interactive map and charts]

>