In his first widely available briefing since early March, Portland Cement Association (PCA) Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Ed Sullivan offered two U.S. cement consumption outlooks based on U- or W-shaped economic recovery curves. A U-shaped recovery will see 2020 and 2021 figures of -3.4% or +1.7%, while a W-shaped model will see declines of -4.8% and -2.7%.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCA Market Intelligence expected cement consumption to grow by 1.7% in 2020, and staying at moderate growth levels through and into 2022.
In “Coronavirus Impacts on the US Cement Industry,” Sullivan traces the curves from sharp, deep declines followed by periods of slow recovery. However, the W-shaped model includes a slide back into recession due to a significant rise in infections. PCA is also developing 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 (USGS) districts. Year-to-date gains in West North Central (19%) and Mountain (14.3%) contrast with laggards East South Central (-3.1%) and Middle Atlantic (-9.9%). In sum, the industry saw year-over-year cement consumption up 2.2% for the first half of 2020.