Try your hand at these brain-teasers, which were distilled from the fascinating 230-page SPI Plastics Industry Economic Report 2000, recently published by the Society of the Plastics Industry, Washington, D.C. Answers to the following 10 questions appear at the bottom of the page. (No peeking!) Scores are rated according to the following system:
Three or four correct answers: Average knowledge of the plastics industry.
Five correct: Very good guesser.
Six or seven correct: Did you peek?
Eight or more correct: You’re disqualified—you must have read the report.
Test time available: As much as you can spare from your real job.
1. How many non-captive plastics-processing plants are there in the U.S.?
(Defined by SPI, according to government industrial classifications, as makers of plastic film & sheet, bags, profiles, pipe, fittings, bottles, foams, resilient floor coverings, and plumbing fixtures, plus custom compounders and miscellaneous custom processors.)
2. What two sectors of non-captive processing have the most U.S. plants?
(See categories under Q.1 and exclude miscellaneous custom processors.)
3. How many persons are employed in non-captive processing in the U.S.?
(Extra credit: How many are employed in captive processing?)
4. What two sectors of non-captive processing shipped the highest dollar value of products in 1999?
(See categories under Q.1; exclude miscellaneous custom processors.)
5. Name two of the three fastest growing processing sectors, in dollar value of shipments, from 1989 to 1999.
(See categories under Q.1.)
6. Was the balance of trade (exports vs. imports) in processed plastics products
(including custom compounded materials) positive, negative, or neutral in 1997-99? Was the trade balance growing, shrinking, or flat in that period?
7. What percent of non-captive processing jobs can be attributed to foreign trade?
8. What state has the most people employed in non-captive processing? What states rank second and third?
9. What state has by far the largest number of workers in plastics mold making?
10. What state has the greatest number of custom molding shops?
11. Bonus question: What state has the most productive non-captive processing shops, in terms of average dollar value of shipments per employee?
Answers: 1. 15,414 (acceptable answer range: 14,000-17,000). 2. Film & sheet, followed by custom compounding. 3. 906,300 (acceptable range: 800,000-1,000,000). Extra credit: 465,300 (acceptable: 400,000-500,000). 4. Film & sheet (1044), followed by custom compounding (901). 5. Custom compounding (9.8%/yr), plumbing fixtures (8.9%), packaging film & sheet (6.6%). 6. Trade balance was positive (exports exceeded imports) but shrinking. 7. 8.4% (acceptable: 7-9%). 8. California, followed by Ohio and Michigan. Together, they employ more than 25% of the total. 9. Michigan—20.5% of the total. Ohio is second with 13.3%. 10. California, by a long shot (figures based on the industrial classification for “miscellaneous plastics products”). 11. Delaware, followed by Virginia and Georgia.