Want a raise? Head for Ohio or New Jersey. Need a market for your paint? Think Canada or Mexico, and keep China in mind.
The two states currently boast the highest wages in the paint and coatings industry’s $11.1 billion payroll, and the two NAFTA partners are the biggest export partners for U.S.-made paints and coatings, buying $1.2 billion of product—65 percent of the total export market—in 2010.
So reports the American Coatings Association in a series of new economic and technological snapshots of the industry.
A new Industry Information Kit
by the coatings manufacturers’ association paints a picture of an industry that is struggling with job losses, rebounding on wages and sales, robust on trade, and leading in technology and innovation.
Labor and Wages
The U.S. paint and coatings industry employed 274,100 workers across 50,600 establishments in 2009, the most recent year analyzed, ACA reports.
That workforce earned an average annual wage of $40,600 in 2009, posting a slight increase over 2008, adjusted for inflation. The highest average annual wage, paid by the industry’s manufacturing sector, was $59,200.
Ohio recorded the highest annual average wage—almost $54,000 in 2009, ACA said. New Jersey ranked second, with an average wage of $51,600 in 2009—a 7 percent increase over 10 years, adjusted for inflation.
Paint and coatings workers have the most company in California, which employs more industry employees—by far—than any other state (see chart). California had 34,005 industry workers and a $1.3 billion payroll in 2009, far ahead of No. 2 Texas, which lost nearly 8 percent of its coatings jobs from 2008 to 2009.
Texas counted 22,815 industry workers in 2009. Florida was third, with 18,958 workers, with a fairly sharp drop-off by other states after that.
U.S. paint and coatings manufacturers notched $18.4 billion in product shipments in 2009. Exports soared 24 percent from 2009 to 2010, totaling $1.8 billion in 2010. The industry posted a $1.3 billion trade surplus in 2010—a 22 percent increase from 2009.
The industry’s best export customers are Canada, which purchased $860 million in U.S. paint and coatings in 2010, and Mexico, where sales totaled $291 million. Those two countries “have consistently acted as the two largest export markets for the industry,” ACA reports.
China took the No. 3 spot in exports last year, with $63 million in sales. Japan and the United Kingdom rounded out the top five export markets in 2010, at $37 million and $34 million, respectively.
Ohio leads the states with the most exports, at $261 million in 2010 (a 30 percent increase over 2009); Illinois was second, with $219 million in exports last year.
As they have for the last decade, sustainability and cost efficiency will continue to drive product and process advances, ACA reports.
“Ever lower limits on VOCs and HAPS, a growing demand by consumers for ‘green’ products, and rising energy and raw material prices have driven formulators to seek multifunctional ingredients with environmentally friendly profiles, and processes with a minimal environmental footprint, all while improving efficiency and performance,” the association says.
Recent advances include:
- Novel, multifunctional additives and resins that incorporate silicon or florine atoms that impart special capabilities to coatings used in aerospace, marine and other high-performance applications;
- Performance-enhancing nanomaterials, which carry anti-microbial, self-cleaning and anti-static properties, as well as improved corrosion and scratch resistance;
- More R&D emphasis on new pigments, anti-corrosive agents, biocides and other active ingredients that are effective but have negative environmental profiles;
- Discovery of a broad range of new raw materials from renewable resources; and
- Hybrid resins that combine two or more types of chemistries, contributing desirable and sometimes contrasting properties, to improve the performance of water-based coatings.
Perhaps no area of coatings research is causing more excitement than smart coatings, which are designed to sense a change in environmental conditions and respond to that change.
“These coatings can be used to detect corrosion, stress, temperature changes, microbes and other potential problems, and then take some sort of action to repair damage or destroy the cause,” ACA says.
“Potential applications are endless — corrosion control, camouflage, bio-weapon detection and destruction, medical devices, textiles, electronics.”
Smart coatings hold the potential to cut costs, reduce maintenance and improve the safety of painting operations. Among the smart protective coatings in development:
- Peizoelectric paints, which can be used to measure shock and vibration damage on bridges, off-shore platforms, pipelines and other large structures;
- Ultrahydrophobic coatings, with water-repellant capabilities for use as corrosion inhibitors and antifouling paints; and
- Anti-microbial coatings, based on some form of silver ions or titanium dioxide used as a photocatalyst to kill microbes.
Production and Application
Researchers are also giving coatings processes a good hard look these days, according to ACA.
Many producers have refined their equipment and systems to reduce energy and water consumption as well as emissions, ACA notes. Many newer coatings take less time and energy to dry, and some manufacturers have introduced one-coat formulations that perform as well as their two-coat predecessors.
A new technique called “self-stratification” allows the preparation of coatings comprised of different types of tethered resins with individual properties. “Selection of the appropriate process conditions enables the organization of the coating structure” to maximize the functionality of each resin type, according to ACA.
Spray equipment and spray booth advances have dramatically reduced waste in application, while new pre-treatment systems based on zirconium oxide as a replacement for zinc phosphate require fewer steps, avoid the use of heavy metals, and consume less water and energy, ACA says.