PCA projects minor 2020-21 shipment drops, or gain, under two recovery models

Sources: Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill.; CP staff

Portland Cement Association Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Ed Sullivan offers two U.S. cement consumption scenarios around “U” or “W” shaped economic recovery curves, with respective 2020 and 2021 figures of -3.4 percent or +1.7 percent and -4.8 percent and -2.7 percent—this year’s projections measured against 2019 shipments.

In “Coronavirus Impacts on the US Cement Industry,” his first widely available briefing since early March, Sullivan traces the curves from sharp, deep declines, the U model indicating a slow recovery and W the same, but a slide back into recession due to a significant rise in infections. Next up he is preparing a “Vaccine Scenario,” where a vaccine or therapeutic drugs reach mass distribution by mid-2021, reducing uncertainty and resulting “in dramatically improved consumer confidence [and] significantly stronger economic growth during the 2nd half of 2021.”

As a lead into the 2020-2021 projections, “Coronavirus Impacts” cites a mixed bag of cement consumption trends for the first half of this year across nine U.S. Geological Survey districts. Year-to-date gains in West North Central (19 percent) and Mountain (14.3 percent) contrast with laggards East South Central (-3.1 percent) and Middle Atlantic (-9.9 percent). In sum, the industry saw year-over-year cement consumption up 2.2 percent for the first half of 2020.

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