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M PLO YM EN T

O U TLO O K

IN

THE

PLASTICS PRODUCTS INDUSTRY

Job Prospects
Duties
Training
Earnings
Working Conditions

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR • BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
OCCUPATIONAL



OUTLOOK SERIE S

-

B U L L E T IN No. 929




Injection molding of fountain pen barrels. This high-speed machine, run by
a skilled operator, can turn out hundreds of plastic pieces in an hour.

Employment Outlook in the
Plastics Products Industry

Bulletin No. 929
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
L. B. Schwellenbach, Secretary
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
Ewan Clague, Commissioner

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C.




Price 15 cents

Letter of Transmittal

U

n it e d

S tates D epa r t m en t of L abor,
B u r e a u o f L a bo r S t a t is t ic s ,

Washington,D. O.,April IS,1948.

The S e c r e t a r y o f L a b o r :
I have the honor to transmit a report on the employment outlook in the
plastics products industry. This is one of a series of occupational and
industry studies prepared in the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Division for
use in vocational counseling of veterans, young people in schools, and others
considering the choice of an occupation. The study was prepared by Sol
Swerdloff and Caiman E. Winegarden. The Bureau wishes to acknowledge
the cooperation received from other Government agencies and from officials
of trade associations, unions, trade periodicals, and companies in the plastics
field. The Bureau, however, takes full responsibility for the interpretations
and conclusions in this report.
E w a n C l a g u e , Commissioner.
Hon. L. B. S c h w e l l e n b a c h ,
Secretary of Labor.

II




Contents

Introduction____________________________________________________________________
What is the plastics products industry?_________________________________________
What are plastics?_________________________________________________________
What is meant by the plastics products industry? ________________________
Location of plastics products plants________________________________________
Size of plants in the industry_______________________________________________
How plastics products are made________________________________________________
Compression molding______________________________________________________
Transfer molding__________
Injection molding__________________________________________________________
Molding by extrusion______________________________________________________
Laminating________________________________________________________________
Finishing and inspection___________________________________________________
Plastics products workers and their jobs________________________________________
Kinds of jobs______________________________________________________________
What are the earnings?____________________________________________________
Working conditions________________________________________________________
Jobs in plastics products industry— Duties, training and qualifications, and earn­
ings __________________________________________________________________________
Jobs in the molding department____________________________________________
Jobs in the tool room______________________________________________________
Jobs in finishing operations________________________________________________
Jobs in the inspection department__________________________________________
Jobs in laminating_________________________________________________________
Professional, technical, and sales jobs_______________________________________
Outlook for employment in the plastics products industry______________________
Past trends in production and employment_________________________________
Future supply of plastic materials__________________________________________
Capacity of the plastics products industry__ _______________________________
The future market for plastics products___ '________________________________
Technological changes affecting employment________________________________
Employment outlook______________________________________________________
Training opportunities for new workers_________________________________________
On-the-job training________________________________________________________
Trade schools______________________________________________________________
Colleges and universities___________________________________________________
Appendix A— Output of plastics products, 1931-45_____________________________
Appendix B— Estimated employment in the plastics products industry, 1937-46___




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III




Employment O utlook in the Plastics Products Industry

Introduction

Plastics are now commonly found in hundreds
of uses—in industry, in automobiles and airplanes,
in homes—and new uses are rapidly appearing.
Stories of spectacular future growth, of a coming
“plastics age,” have been widely circulated. It is
no wonder, that many veterans, young people
in schools, and others interested in choosing a
field of work are looking to the growing plastics
products industry for new and promising job
opportunities.
At the end of 1946, the number of jobs in the

plastics products industry was higher than the
wartime peak, and nearly three times the employ­
ment in 1939. Prospects are for a relatively large
increase in employment in the industry during the
next year or two and for steady growth thereafter.
Most of the openings, however, will be for semi­
skilled and unskilled production workers.
This study discusses job prospects in the
industry and describes the duties, training, earn­
ings, and working conditions of its employees.

What is the Plastics Products Industry?
What are Plastics?

What Is Meant by the “ Plastics Products Industry”?

Plastics are synthetic organic materials which,
through application of pressure or heat or both,
may be formed into almost any desired shape.
They are man-made from substances like coal,
petroleum, wood, and cotton. Although not
entirely of recent origin, plastics are mainly prod­
ucts of modern research.
Not only are plastics easy to shape, but they
have many other useful properties. Generally
they are light, resistant to corrosion, easy to color,
odorless, and tasteless. Some are noted for tough­
ness, electrical insulating qualities, transparency,
resistance to water, or flexibility. Plastics prod­
ucts constitute parts of electrical appliances,
automobiles, airplanes, and industrial equipment
of various kinds, and are seen in daily use as
radio cabinets, toys, novelties, bottle tops, and
telephone hand-sets as well as in hundreds of other
forms. The tabulation on the following page
shows some typical plastic materials, their prop­
erties, illustrations of their uses, and common
trade names.

The term “plastics products industry” refers to
plants which make molded and laminated plastics
articles and parts for sale. This is the largest
and most distinctive of the three main divisions
of what has been popularly called the field of
plastics. The other divisions are plastic materials
manufacturing and plastics fabricating.
Plastic materials manufacturers—part of the
chemical industry—supply molders and extruders
with molding compounds in powder, granular,
or flake form, and furnish laminators with impreg­
nating resins. They also furnish sheets, rods,
and tubes to fabricating plants. Molders, lami­
nators, and fabricators make the so-called “rigid”
plastics products that the public sees and readily
recognizes. Less than half of the plastics mate­
rials, however, go into these products. The rest
are consumed in the making of such other prod­
ucts as paints and coatings, adhesives, brake lin­
ings, and grinding wheels. There are about 30,000
workers employed in the plants which manufac­
ture plastic materials, in jobs similar to those
found in many other chemical processes.




1

Plastics Have M any Different Properties and Uses
Some Typical Plastic M aterials and Their Products

Material
T h erm osettin g
m aterials

Phenolics____ __
Urea
Melamine_______

Manufactured from— Outstanding properties

Typical uses

Common trade names

Light, resistant to heat Electric switch parts, Bakelite, Durite, Durez,
Makalot, Indur, Resibottle tops, radio
and w a ter, g o o d
nox.
cabinets, gears, bear­
surface appearance,
ings, table tops, cam­
strong, and hard,
era cases.
Ammonia and car­ Unlimited color range, Cosmetic containers, Beetle, Bakelite Urea,
Plaskon, Sylplast.
odorless, tasteless,
machine housings,
bon dioxide.1
automobile hard­
very light, rigid,
ware, clock cases,
hard surfaced.
buttons.
Calcium cyanamid L Heat resistant, electri­ Light reflectors, table­ Melmac, Plaskon, Resical insulating, resis­
ware, buttons, tele­
mene.
phone handsets, cir­
tant to moisture,
cuit breakers.
hard surfaced.

P henol1_________

T h erm op la stic
m aterials

Cellulose acetate___ Cotton linters, acetic Water resistant, di­
acid, acetic anhy­
mensionally stable,
electrical insulating,
dride, sulphuric
easy to color.
acid.
Cotton linters, caus­ E xceptionally tough,
Ethyl cellulose-.
resistant to moisture,
tic soda, eth y l
electrical insulating.
chloride.
Acrylics ________ Propylene, acetone, T ran sp aren t, lig h t,
shatter resistant, eas­
methyl alcohol.
ily formed, resistant
to chemicals.
Polystyrene____ __ Benzene and ethyl Electrical insulating,
relatively waterproof,
chloride.
dimensionally stable,
odorless, tasteless,
color fast.
Vinyls
A cetylen e reacted Flexible, hard, chemi­
with acetic acid or
cal resistant, electri­
cal insulating.
hydrogen chloride.

Toys, novelties, cultery
handles, automobile
knobs and handles,
brushes and combs,
fountain pens.
Flashlight cases, steer­
ing wheels, instru­
ment panels, vacu­
um cleaner parts.
M edical instrum ents,
lenses, dials, toilet
articles, n ovelties,
furniture, dentures.
R efrig era to r p a rts,
instrum ent panels,
bottle caps, cosme­
tic containers, bath­
room and kitchen
tile.
Phonograph records,
instrument housings,
chemical tubing and
pipe, furniture, toys.

Bakelite C. A., Kodapak
Lumarith, Nexonite,
Tenite I, Chemaco,
Fibestos.
Ethocel, Celcon, Nex­
onite E. C., Ethofoil.
Plexiglas, Lucite.
B akelite P olystyren e,
P olyflex, Styram ic,
Styron, Lustron,
Loalin.
Saran, Vinylite, Butacite, Koroseal, Gelva,
Chemaco, Geon, Velon.

1 Formaldehyde is usually added in making molding compounds from these materials.

in other chemical processes.
Plastics fabricators—also make plastics prod­
ucts, but unlike molding and laminating plants,
are not considered part of the plastics products
industry. Their production methods are basically
the same as those used in woodworking and metal­
working. Plastics fabricators buy plastic forms,
such as sheets, rods, and tubes, from the materials
producers and turn them into finished articles
or parts. As many as 2,000 plants fabricate plas­
tics, including some which also work other mate­
rials, such as wood or light metals. They range
in size from one-man shops making novelties in
basements and garages to a few plants with more
than 100 employees. The equipment used ranges
2




from simple hand tools, such as files, to power
machines of the kind employed in machining metal
or wood. Although there are many fabricating
shops, the number of jobs is much lower than in
the plastics products industry.
Plants in the plastics products industry are
engaged mainly in molding or laminating plastics
articles for sale. Most of the industry’s output
consists of plastics parts made to order for firms
in other industries, such as the electrical
machinery, automobile, radio, aircraft, and foun­
tain pen industries. Other plastics products are
sold in finished form, such as novelties, toys, combs,
and container tops. Some plants in other indus­
tries, such as automobiles and radios, have plastics

departments of their own, instead of purchasing
plastics parts from independent molders or laminators.
At the end of 1946, there were over 1,000 plants
in the plastics products industry, with a total of
about 50,000 employees. In the 200 to 300 plastics
departments of plants in other industries, an
additional 12,000 to 15,000 were employed. The
jobs in these plastics departments correspond to
those in the plastics products industry.
In 1945, the total output of molded and lam­
inated plastics products (including products made
outside of the plastics products industry) was
valued at 330 million dollars, compared with
approximately 76 million dollars in 1939.
Location of Plastics Products Plants

Plastics products plants are located principally
in the more important industrial regions of the
country, near the main users of their products. At

the end of 1946 there were plants in 35 States, but
over four-fifths of the workers in the industry
were employed in 7 States: Massachusetts, New
York, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, and
California.
Size of Plants in the Industry

Plants in this industry are usually small. One
factor is the relative newness of the industry;
another is the fact that it is possible to operate
fairly small molding plants efficiently. Plants
range in size from those which are run by their
owners without help to a few large establishments
with over 1,000 employees. In 1939 more than half
of all plants had less than 50 employees. During
World War II and thereafter, the older estab­
lished companies tended to become much larger.
On the other hand, most of the new plants which
have opened up within the last few years are still
comparatively small.

How Plastics Products Are Made

Plastics products are made primarily by ma­
chines. Hand work comes in mainly in the finish­
ing and inspection of the products. In a particu­
lar plant, one or more processes may be used, each
having its special type of machine. These ma­
chines are largely automatic in their operation.
Quantity production is the rule, even in the
smaller plants. Typically, large numbers of each
item are turned out; for example, a plant may
have an order for many thousands of identical
bottle caps or fountain-pen barrels. It is usually
not economical to make plastics products in small
quantities, because of the high cost of the indi­
vidual molds used in their manufacture. Without
mechanization and quantity production, the cost
of plastics articles would be prohibitively high
and their widespread use impossible.
The principal methods of shaping plastics are
by molding and laminating. There are four main
ways of molding plastics—compression, transfer,
injection, and extrusion. Choice of method is
based on the shape of the piece to be molded and
the kind of plastic materials used. In laminating,
pressure is used to bond together plastic impreg­
nated sheets of paper or fabric.




Plastics fall into two main classes: thermoset­
ting and thermoplastic. Thermosetting materials
undergo chemical change under heat and pressure,
whereas thermoplastic materials do not. After
molding, thermoplastics can be reheated and used
over again, whereas thermosetting materials can­
not be reused. Some of the most commonly used
thermosetting compounds are phenol formal­
dehyde and melamine. Typical thermoplastic
compounds include cellulose acetate, ethyl cellu­
lose, polystyrene, acrylics, and the vinyl resins.
Compression Molding

More than half of all molded plastics, including
such products as container tops, knobs and han­
dles, instrument housings, electrical fuse boxes,
and radio cabinets, are made by the compression
method. A carefully measured amount of thermo­
setting material, either in powder form or in pre­
heated pellets, is loaded directly into the heated
cavities of the steel mold, as the simplified dia­
gram 1 shows. The mold closes and pressure is
1 Data for diagrams adapted from
York, N. Y.).

Product Engineering

(New
3

softened. The plastic material in a semiliquid
form is then forced by pressure into a cool, closed
mold, and here the material hardens by cooling,
and the plastics part is ejected. The entire cycle
(the whole operation of changing the heated ma­
terial into the finished piece) can be completed in
as little time as 20 seconds.

applied. Inside the mold, the material softens
under heat and pressure, flows into the shape of
the mold, and fuses and hardens permanently.
The pressure is released, the press is opened, and
the molded piece is removed.
Transfer Molding

This method is employed for molding many
thermosetting plastics objects difficult to produce
by conventional compression molding—especially
those in which metal parts are inserted, as, for
example, many electrical devices. Transfer mold­
ing is a variation of compression molding, differ­
ing from it in that the plastic materials, instead of
being loaded directly into the mold cavity, are
first placed in a transfer chamber, where they are
softened by heat. The material is then forced by
means of a plunger into the closed mold, where
it is held under pressure for the period required
to harden or “cure” the piece being molded.
Injection Molding

Most of the molding of thermoplastic materials
is done by the injection method, which produces
such articles as combs, eyeglass frames, flashlight
cases, tooth-brush handles, vacuum-cleaner attach­
ments, instrument panels and costume jewelry.
This process is usually done by semiautomatic ma­
chines and with the use of multicavity molds,
which produce many items at the same time. The
diagram1 shows the basic features of injection
molding. The plastic material is loaded into a
hopper, which feeds into a cylinder. A ram forces
the material into a heating chamber, where it is
See footnote on page 3.
4




Molding by Extrusion

This method is used to produce continuous cross
sections (strips) from thermoplastic materials for
such products as flexible tubing and wall moldings.
Plastic material is fed into the extrusion machine,
which, as the diagram1 indicates, operates much
EXTRUSION

like a sausage grinder. A continuous screw forces
the material into the heating chamber, where it is
softened by heat and pressure and then forced, in
paste-like form, through the die opening. The
strip which emerges takes the form of the die, is
carried off on a conveyor, and cooled by blowers
or baths. The strips are then cut into the desired
lengths or wound on spools.
Laminating

Laminating is used to produce sheets and tubes
of high strength and hard finish. Sheets of paper
or fabric are soaked in resin solutions and squeezed
together under heat and pressure. Lamination
may be high pressure, low pressure, or contact,
differing according to the type of pressure used.
In high pressure laminating, which is shown in
the diagram,1 rolls of paper or fabric are run
through a bath of resin, the excess resin is drained

LAMINATION

Inspecting a molded plastics piece for proper size and finish.
Very little training is needed for most inspection jobs.

off, and these rolls are dried in ovens. Sheets of
the material are cut to proper length and placed
in stacks between two steel plates. The stacks are
then placed between the platens of a hydraulic
press, where heat and pressure forms them into
laminated sheets. The sheets are cooled and
removed from the press. Any type of finish can
be obtained, because the finished sheets duplicate
the surface of the steel plates.
Some typical products machined from laminated
sheets or tubes include automobile gears, switch­
board panels, bearings, trays, and table tops.
Finishing and Inspection

FINISHED SHEETS MADE UNDER
HEAT AND PRESSURE OF
1,000-2,000 LB. PER SQ. IN.

Before molded plastics products are ready to
be shipped to the user, they undergo a series of
hand- and machine-finishing operations. Excess
material must be removed, surfaces polished, and
in many cases holes must be drilled and other
machining done on the plastics pieces. Frequently,
pieces have to be assembled. Laminated sheets,
rods, and tubes may be further shaped by sawing,
machining, and punching holes.
Plastics articles are inspected for proper size,
finish, color, and other specified qualities required
by the user.
See footnote on p. 3.

7S3375— 4J

2




5

Plastics Products Workers and Their Jobs

As this is a relatively new industry, and one
which has added many workers in recent years,

most of its employees are young. During World
War II, women constituted 40 to 50 percent of the
workers in plastics products plants. By 1947 the
proportion had dropped to about a third. Most
of the women are in the finishing and inspection
departments and in office work, although they
frequently operate semiautomatic molding ma­
chines.
In 1946 about 5 percent of the workers in the
industry were Negroes. Some Negroes are em­
ployed in production jobs, but most are employed
as janitors and as laborers in the shipping and
storage departments.
Kinds of Jo b s

Finishing room worker hand-filing a plastics telephone hand-set.
Many of the finishing jobs are held by women.

Because the production methods of the plastics
products industry are largely mechanized, the bulk
of the jobs are semiskilled and unskilled. Employ­
ment in major departments is shown in chart 1.

MOST JOBS IN THE PLASTICS PRODUCTS INDUSTRY
ARE IN FINISHING. INSPECTION. AND MOLDING
E S T IM A T E D

E M P LO Y M E N T B Y D E P A R T M E N T , D E C E M B E R 1946
THOUSANDS OF WORKERS

4

6

8

TOOL ROOM

C H A B T 1.

6




10

12

14

Over a fourth of the workers are in the molding
departments. Almost all molding machine oper­
ators learn their duties in a few months of onthe-job training. Hand molders (operators of
nonautomatic molding machines), however, are
relatively skilled. Operators of fully automatic
molding machines may be trained in a few weeks.
In the finishing and inspection departments, which
have nearly a third of the workers, semiskilled
and unskilled employees do the various tumbling,
sanding, assembling, and polishing operations.
Similarly, much of the inspection is done by
workers who need brief training. In laminating
departments, as in molding, nearly all the jobs
center around machine operation. Plastics prod­
ucts plants also employ a number of men who
move materials or perform laboring jobs. These
are found in the storage and shipping depart­
ments, as well as the various production and
maintenance departments.
On the other hand, molding plants which make
their own molds have toolrooms where highly
skilled tool and die makers and machinists are
employed; but toolroom jobs are only a small
percentage of employment. There are also a
number of workers who maintain the plant and
its equipment, among them being some skilled
men, such as electricians and mechanics.
White-collar workers constitute nearly oneseventh of the industry’s total employment.
There are, of course, the usual clerical jobs, such as
typing, bookkeeping, and filing. Many salesmen
are employed in the marketing of plastics prod­
ucts. In the technical fields, there are chemical
and electrical engineers, mold and product de­
signers, and draftsmen.

facturing industries as a whole in the same month.
These figures include extra pay for overtime, holi­
day work, and night shifts, and therefore do not
show the straight-time pay. Typical straighttime earnings in each of the main occupations of
the plastics products industry are given in the
subsequent discussion of jobs in the industry.
This industry does not have seasonal ups and
downs in production, so that nearly all its employ­
ees work the year round.
W orking Conditions

Working conditions in plastics products plants
are usually good, compared with factory work in
general. The buildings are often modern, well-

W h at A re the Earn in g s?

In early 1948 hourly earnings of plant workers
in this industry ranged from an entrance rate of
60 cents an hour for some unskilled finishing jobs
to more than $2 an hour for especially skilled tool
and die makers. A high percentage of the workers
are on incentive pay, with a guaranteed minimum
hourly rate. The average hourly earnings of
production workers employed in 115 plants report­
ing to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in December
1917 were about $1.21. On the average, they
earned $51.32 a week for 41.4 hours of work. This
compares with hourly earnings of $1.28 and weekly
earnings of $52.74 for production workers in manu­



Transfer molding is a variation of compression molding.
operator is taking out molded telephone parts.

The

lighted, and adequately ventilated. Molding de­
partments tend to be noisy, and it may be quite
hot next to the molding machines. The operators
have to wear gloves, since they handle hot plastics
pieces. In laminating plants, the odor from the
laminating solution may be disagreeable, and heat
near the presses may be bothersome.
7

The work in the industry is not particularly
dangerous. Accident data for 1946 indicate
that in this industry there were about 16.8 dis­
abling injuries for each million employee-hours
worked, compared with a rate of 19.9 for all
manufacturing industries. The machines used in
molding are largely automatic, with numerous
safety devices to reduce the hazards. In finishing
operations, cutting and stamping machines cause
Jobs in Plastics Products Industry

—

occasional injuries, and the workers may be
affected by dust from grinding and polishing.
Most plastics products plants operate more than
one shift; three-shift operation is the most com­
mon.
About half of the plants in the industry are
unionized. Locals of various CIO and AFL
unions and some independent unions haveorganized these plants.

Duties, Training and Qualifications, and Earnings

Thus far a general picture of the industry and
its workers has been given. Anyone considering
a career in the plastics products industry will want
a closer look at the more important occupations
in the industry, especially those jobs unique to
plastics.

ing and ejection devices, the operator need only
keep the hopper full of molding materials and call
his supervisor if anything goes wrong with the
machine. In some plants, automatic and semi­
automatic compression molding machines are ar­
ranged and timed so that one operator may run
several machines.

Jobs in the M olding Departm ent

In the plastics molding plant, molding is the
heart of the production process. Over one-fourtli
of total employment in the industry is in the mold­
ing departments. Most of the workers in the
molding department are machine operators, run­
ning the various kinds of molding presses.
Duties

What a compression molding machine operator
does and what he has to know depends on the
kind of machine—hand, semiautomatic, or fully
automatic. Semiautomatic machines are the most
common in compression molding. If he operates
one of these, he loads the proper amount of powder
or preformed materials into the mold cavity. He
starts the machine by pressing the starter but­
ton. By means of electric timing controls the
machine automatically closes, cures, opens, and
breaks the article free from the mold. These con­
trols are usually set in advance, by a set-up man,
for each run of identical pieces. Finally, the
operator removes the molded article from the ma­
chine and cleans the mold with an air hose. It is
clear that the machine does most of the work and
that its operator needs little skill.
Fully automatic machines have these features,
but go even further. With their automatic load­
8



Operator loading plastic material into the mold cavities of a com­
pression molding machine, which is the most widely used type
of molding press.

Hand molding is used only for experimental and
laboratory work and for the making of articles
required in very small quantities. There are
therefore, relatively few hand molders. The hand
molder removes the mold from the machine and
fills it with plastic materials. He then assembles
the mold and places it into position in the press.
When the curing time is up, the press is opened

and he removes the mold from the press, takes
it apart, and removes the molded piece. Clearly,
the hand molder must have considerably greater
skill and must use more judgment than other
molding machine operators.
In transfer molding, the operator’s duties are
similar to those of the compression molding
machine operator.
The injection molding machine operator fills the
machine hopper with plastic materials and starts
the machine, which automatically does the mold­
ing. When the molding is completed, the mold
opens automatically and the operator removes the
molded pieces. While the machine is running the
operator may perform other tasks, such as cutting
excess material from the pieces and packing the
molded pieces into a box.
An extrusion machine operator feeds his
machine with plastic materials and watches the
extruded strips, as they are carried away from
the machine on a conveyor, to see if the pieces
are of the right size and. without flaws. He may
cut the plastic strips as they come from the press.
The job of the set-up man (also known as a
“mold setter” or “die setter”) is to make ready the
molding machines used by semiskilled or unskilled
operators. He bolts and clamps the mold into place
in the machine and checks mold alignment. The
set-up man regulates the time, heat, and pressure
controls and makes other adjustments of the
machines as required from time to time. His job
is more difficult and responsible than that of most
machine operators.
Training and Qualifications

Usually no previous experience or training is
required to obtain the job of molding machine
operator. The general practice is to hire inexperi­
enced persons and to train them on the job.
The operator has to be an alert and dependable
person. Although the skill needed is small, the
job involves careful watching of the process and
the use of expensive and complicated machines.
His strength should be average, and he should be
able to move about freely. Some women are em­
ployed as operators, usually of injection machines.
The training period varies from the 2 or 3 weeks
necessary to learn operation of the more automatic
machines to the 12 to 18 months needed to become
a skilled hand molder. With little additional
training, workers can transfer from one type of




molding machine to. another; e.g., from compres­
sion to injection machines.
Set-up men are selected from among experienced
molding machine operators or from among the
tool room workers. Jobs as molding room fore­
men are filled by promoting machine operators or
set-up men.
Earnings

What may a young person who gets a job as
a molding machine operator expect in the way of
earnings ?
In the early part of 1948, most of the experi­
enced men operating compression molding ma­
chines earned from $1.10 to $1.75 an hour. Ex­
perienced men operating injection molding ma­
chines typically earned from $1.00 to $1.40 an hour.
These earnings include any incentive pay received,
but exclude extra pay for overtime and night work.
Earnings of women, as is true in most jobs in the
industry, are often 5 to 20 cents an hour less than
those of men. Beginning pay for inexperienced
workers ranged from 75 cents to $1.00 an hour.
Set-up men earned from $1.10 to $1.75 an hour.
The hourly rate for molding foremen varied from
$1.20 to $2.00.
Jobs in the Tool Room

Many molding plants, especially the larger ones,
make their own molds instead of buying them from
outside machine shops. These molding plants
have tool rooms in which skilled tool and die
makers and machinists are employed. Although
this is only a small part of employment in the
plastics products industry, with less than 3,000
workers at the end of 1946, it is the place in the
industry where most of the skilled jobs are found.
(However, this industry is just one of the many
places where tool and die makers and machinists
work, since the bulk of them are employed in the
various metalworking industries.)
Duties

Tool and die makers use machine tools and hand
tools to shape molds from steel. They must be
able to read blueprints, to use precision measuring
instruments, and to set up and operate various
machine tools, such as lathes and boring mills.
Machinists assist the tool and die makers, recon­
dition and repair worn or damaged molds, and
make replacement parts for the various machines
9

in the plant. Machinists must be able to set up
and operate machine tools.

Machinists generally earned between $1.30 and
$1.75 an hour. Apprentices usually start at about
half of the journeyman rate. The hourly rate for
toolroom foremen varied from $1.75 to $2.50.
Jo b s in Finishing O perations

Machining a plastics mold in the tool room. Tool and die makers
are the most skilled production workers in the plastics products
industry.

Train ing and Qualifications

The work of the tool and die maker is usually
learned through formal apprenticeship or the
equivalent in other types of on-the-job training.
A tool and die apprenticeship ordinarily covers 4
or 5 years of shop training in various parts of the
job. In addition, during the apprenticeship,
courses such as shop arithmetic and blueprint read­
ing are given in vocational schools. One may be­
come a machinist through a 4-year apprenticeship
similar to that of the tool and die maker. Men
also become machinists by picking up the trade
while working in the tool room as machinist’s
helpers or machine tool operators.
Earning s

Earnings of first-class tool and die makers in
the plastics products industry ranged from $1.50
to $2.00 an hour, straight-time, in early 1948. This
is the highest-paid factory job in the industry.
10



One of the largest groups of jobs in the plastics
products industry is the finishing department
group. Most molded plastics undergo a series of
finishing operations before they are ready for use.
In general, not much skill is needed of finishing
department workers, most of whom are women.
There are a number of different jobs in finish­
ing rooms. Tumbler operators place molded
pieces in wire tumbling barrels containing polish­
ing materials and start the tumbling machine.
The rotating motion of the barrel rubs the pieces
against one another and against the polishing
material, which gradually removes the excess
material. Bench grinders hold the molded articles
against rotating abrasive wheels to remove excess
material. Hand filers or burrers use hand files or
carving spindles to smooth edges and remove ma­
terial. Buffers and polishers polish articles to a
high luster by holding them against rapidly rotat­
ing wheels. Drill-press operators drill holes in
plastic pieces and clean the excess material from
holes. In some plants, a number of assemblers are
employed to put together molded pieces, making
the finished product.
Because these jobs are easy to learn, unskilled
and inexperienced workers are hired. Training to
operate the various machines and tools is given on
the job.
Workers in the various finishing operations in
the first part of 1948 usually earned from 85 cents
to $1.20 an hour, depending on the job and the
skill involved. Beginning rates for inexperienced
workers were as low as 60 cents an hour. Finish­
ing department foremen earned from 85 cents to
$1.50 an hour.
Job s in the Inspection Departm ent

Plastics products usually must be inspected be­
fore they leave the plant. The amount of inspec­
tion needed differs widely. For some molded
products, the workers only look over the articles
for blisters or improper finish. Other products
must be examined more closely to see if they are

the exact shape and size required and meet other
specifications. As in finishing, a large proportion
of the workers are women.
Previous experience is usually not required.
Good eyesight is essential, but little physical
strength is called for. Very brief training is
needed to perform most of the inspection opera­
tions. On the other hand, instruction in blueprint
reading and use of measuring instruments such as
micrometers, dividers, and the various types of
gages is essential for some inspectors and super­
visory inspectors.
In early 1948, the hourly earnings of experienced
inspectors in molding plants generally ranged
from 85 cents to $1.20 an hour. Supervisory
inspectors earned from $1.05 to $1.75.
Jobs in Laminating

About 6,500 workers were engaged in laminating
operations at the end of 1946. Most of the jobs
are in plants which specialize in laminating,
although some plants which do molding also have
laminating departments.
Most of the workers in the laminating shops are
semiskilled machine operators, helpers, and labor­
ers. Three typical jobs are those of coater, press
operator, and mandrel man.
The coater operates the machine that impreg­
nates paper or fabrics with synthetic resins. He
places large rolls of paper or fabric into the
Laminating plastics products.




machine and directs the course of the material
through a resin bath and through drying ovens.
After that, the dried material is wound in rolls
by the same machine.
A laminating press operator runs a hydraulic
press which produces sheets of plastic material by
pressing layers of resin-impregnated paper, tex­
tiles, or other material between steel plates. The
laminating press operator has to regulate the heat
and pressure controls.
The mandrel man tends a semiautomatic ma­
chine which winds resin-impregnated paper or
fabric onto heated cores (mandrels) used in mak­
ing laminated plastic tubing. He regulates the
thickness of the tube by using simple gaging tools.
After the desired thickness is reached he stops the
machine and cuts the material. The tube is then
taken to an oven where the cure is completed.
In laminating plants, sheets and tubes are often
fabricated into finished products such as gears and
bearings, before they are shipped. This work is
done by lathe operators, power-saw operators, and
other machine operators, most of them semiskilled.
Production workers in laminating departments
usually learn their work through informal on-thejob training. The amount of training required
ranges from 2 to 12 months, depending on the
complexity of the job and the kind of machinery
used. Inexperienced workers are usually hired
as laborers or learners and are upgraded to fill
vacancies as they occur.

Workers stack sheets of resin-soaked paper between metal plates; after the stack is placed in a
hydraulic press, heat and pressure are applied.

11

At the beginning of 1947, semiskilled produc­
tion workers in laminating shops, such as coaters
and press operators, were earning from 80 cents
to $1.25 an hour.
Professional, Technical, and Sales Jobs

Although most of the jobs in the plastics prod­
ucts industry require little skill or knowledge, such
technically trained people as chemists, engineers,
designers, and draftsmen are needed to carry on
this complex, rapidly changing industry. Plas­
tics products companies must also have salesmen,
men who know plastics products and who can go
out and sell them to skeptical purchasing agents
and production men in competition with other
materials. Most of the technicians work at devel­
oping new products and improving old ones.
Qualified production superintendents are also
needed to plan and oversee plant operations, keep­
ing the plant running efficiently and turning out
high quality products.

College training in chemical or mechanical en­
gineering is a prerequisite for most technical jobs;
and to qualify for the more responsible positions,
such as production superintendent, considerable
experience is required. These technical workers
are not a large proportion of the industry’s em­
ployment, and are most commonly found in the
large plants, since many of the smaller molding
firms do not employ designers, engineers, or drafts­
men. Instead, these small companies temporar­
ily engage the services of independent technical
men and consultants for this work. Some of the
development of plastics products is carried on by
the plastic materials producers and they employ
technical men in this activity.
Salesmen, often called sales engineers, should
have some technical training. They need a knowl­
edge of the properties of plastic materials, of
costs, of plant equipment, and of marketing pos­
sibilities. It is often necessary to have experience
in a plastics plant or engineering school training
in order to become a salesman for a plastics prod­
ucts firm.

Outlook for Employment in the Plastics Products Industry

The outlook is for a relatively big increase in
the number of jobs in the plastics products in­
dustry during the next year or two and for steady
growth in employment thereafter. This conclu­
sion has been reached after an analysis of trends
of production and technological change in the
industry.
Past Trends in Production and Employment

Since the beginning of the industry in 1869, with
the invention of the first plastic material—cellu­
loid—there has been continued expansion both in
the amounts and types of materials made and in
the production and uses of plastics products. In
recent years, however, growth has been phenome­
nally rapid, as chart 2 shows.
It can be seen that in 1939 output was nearly
four times that in 1931. The rise between 1937
and 1939 is significant in view of the fact that
general business conditions were better in the for­
mer year than in the latter. There were many
factors in this rapid growth: New plastic mate­
12




rials were developed; the cost of materials de­
creased; the methods of molding and laminating
were greatly improved; widespread consumer and
industrial acceptance of plastics was achieved.
During World War II there was another great
expansion of the industry, with 85 percent of plas­
tics products going directly or indirectly into mili­
tary uses. These included, for example, parts for
hand grenades and gas masks; housings for radio
and radar equipment; aircraft ammunition boxes
and bomb racks; and laminated plastics bearings
and gears. In 1944, production had risen to four
times the prewar rate.
Not only did wartime needs greatly expand the
production of plastics products but there were also
effects important in the peacetime development of
the industry. For example, numerous substitu­
tions were made of plastics in place of metal and
other scarce materials; many plastic materials
were improved in connection with military uses.
These developments have carried over into the
postwar period.

C hart 2.

In the plastics products industry the number of
employees doubled between 1939 and 1943 and con­
tinued to rise during the war years. Employment
did not go up nearly as much as production, how­
ever, because lengthening of working hours and
use of improved production equipment and meth­
ods resulted in a great increase in output per
worker. In chart 3 we have a picture of the trend
of employment in the plastics products industry.
The outstanding feature of this industry’s de­
velopment is the fact that employment at the end
of 1946 was above the wartime peak, as well as
nearly three times the 1939 level. What happened
w^as that a big increase in peacetime uses of plas­
tics products more than took the place of their
wartime uses. If it had not been for a severe
shortage of plastic materials, an even greater post­
war increase of the industry would have occurred.
In the spring and summer of 1947 there was a
temporary slackening in the demand for products
E M P L O Y M E N T IN T H E P L A S T I C S
s&
P R O D U C T S IN D U S T R Y
0~

i

made from thermoplastics, resulting in some small
lay-offs in the industry. This situation reflected
an oversupply of plastics novelties and gadgets
and, in some cases, buyers’ resistance to high prices
and improper uses of plastics. This slump in
business ended in the early fall and production
increased rapidly in the last few months of the
year, so that by the beginning of 1948 the industry
had more than recovered from its mid-1947 decline.
Demand for products made from thermosetting
materials remained strong, on the other hand, and
the supply of these materials continued to be
inadequate.
Since materials shortages have been a limiting
factor in the industry’s development, the prospec­
tive supply of materials is important in the indus­
try outlook.
Future Supply of Plastic Materials

Scarcity of plastic materials developed because
the expanding needs of the plastics products
makers outran the capacity of the plastic mate­
rials manufacturers. Not only have there been
shortages while new plants for making materials
were being constructed, but there has also been a
scarcity of many of the basic chemicals used in
the manufacture of these materials. A much
larger supply of plastic materials, however, is in
prospect.
The plastic materials manufacturers in 1946
began a large scale program of new plant construc­
tion to be completed in 1948. Many of the neces­
sary basic chemicals are also likely to be more
plentiful. According to estimates of the Plastic
Materials Manufacturers Association, the rate of
production for all plastic materials after comple­
tion of the present expansion program will be
double that of 1945, and the rate for molding
powder (excluding vinyls) will be more than two
and a half times the 1945 rate. By the end of
1947 this expansion had already greatly increased
the supply of plastic materials, and the thermo­
plastic materials were relatively abundant.
Capacity of the Plastics Products Industry

1937

1939

1943

1944

1945

1946

DECEMBER

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS________________ REFER TO APPENDIX B FOR DATA AND EXPLANATION




Chart

3.

It is expected that the plastics products industry
will have adequate machine capacity to absorb the
increased supply of plastic materials. The num­
ber of machines installed has grown faster than
the supply of materials, so that many machines
are not now being fully used. Moreover, figures
13

lating qualities, laminated and molded plastics
parts are being increasingly used in this equip­
ment in such applications as junction boxes,
Type of m achine:1
circuit breakers, panel boards, fuses, bases for
Injection_____________ 1,000 1, 720 3,275 3,625
Compression__________ 8, 000 12, 065 12, 975 13, 390
electric motors, and meter boards.
In the next few years, there should continue
Some additional increase in the number of
to be a high volume of production of refrigerators,
machines seems probable in the next 2 years. It
appears likely, then, that there will be enough vacuum sweepers, and the many other electrical
molding machines to use all the increased supply appliances. This should provide a good market
of plastic molding material. The extent to which for plastics parts. The growing use of electronic
this capacity is used in actual production, how­ devices will expand another market for plastics.
The output of radio receiving sets in the last 2
ever, depends on the prospective markets for
years has been an all-time record and is expected to
plastics products.
remain at a high level for a few more years. Apart
from their other uses in radios, plastics have
The Future Market for Plastics Products
replaced wood largely as cabinets for table models.
Only a small percentage of plastics products The probable growth of FM and television will
are sold directly to the public as finished articles, create some additional demand for plastics prod­
such as toy guns, sink strainers, and combs. Most ucts, which are used in both the transmitting and
of the products go to manufacturers who use receiving equipment.
Although the automobile industry was one of
plastics parts in the making of other products,
such as radios, automobiles, fountain pens, and the heaviest consumers of plastics before the war,
industrial machinery. Thus, the demand for the average automobile contained only about 5
plastics products and the resulting volume of pounds of plastics. The postwar cars generally
production that can be expected for the next few showed small increases in the amounts of plastics
years will be determined primarily by the level used. Increased use of plastics parts is forecast,
of activity in the industries which consume plas­ however, and some experts predict the use of as
tics products and by the development of new much as 15 to 20 pounds of plastics per car. An
uses for plastics by these industries. The most important application of plastics in the postwar
important industrial users of plastics products automobile has occurred: the inside surface of
include the manufacturers of electrical machinery some station wagons, taxis, and truck cabs consists
(both industrial electrical equipment and con­ of laminated paneling. Not only are more plastics
sumer appliances), radios, automobiles, novelties per car likely, but also a high level of automotive
least 5 million cars and trucks annu­
and toys, aircraft, household equipment and furni­ output—at be expected for the next few years.
ally—may
ture, industrial machinery and equipment, pack­
The
industry
largest
aging, and building supplies. A high level of users ofaircraft during thewas one of the current
plastics
war. Although
activity is expected in most of these industries for aircraft production is only a small fraction of the
the next few years.
wartime rate, it remains
higher than
The electrical equipment industry constituted the prewar volume. In considerably Government
view of the
the largest prewar market for plastics products. program for greatly increased production of mili­
In view of the recent large increase in demand tary aircraft and of the new uses for plastics in air­
for electric power in this country and of foreign planes, this industry should provide an expanding
needs for electric-power machinery, the production market for plastics products.
of generating and distributing equipment is
Another important use for plastics products
expected to be at an all-time high during the has been as tops for bottles and other containers.
next few years. Because of their excellent insu­ In the past the bulk of the closures have been
metal, but plastics, because they are odorless, taste­
1 Data are from Modern P lastics (New York, N. Y .), January
less, nonrusting, and resistant to chemicals, are
1948. These estim ates include machines used in plastics depart­
m ents of plants in other industries, as well as in the plastics
expected to be used much more widely in the future.
products industry. They do not include laboratory presses nor
make allow ances for scrapping of older machines.
In other important plastics-products-consuming
on the number of machines in use in recent years
show a rising trend in capacity.
1941

14




1945

1946

1947

industries—the building, household equipment and
furniture, and novelty and toy industries—pro­
duction is expected to be at a high level for several
years, with some new uses of plastics also being
introduced. Already plastics have appeared in
many new uses in buildings and furniture, and
the trend to plastics is growing. An example is
the recent development of plastic bathroom tile.
A visit to any 5-and-10-cent store will show that
numerous familiar items, such as tool handles and
towel racks, formerly made of other materials, are
now often plastic.
All in all, market prospects for plastics products
appear highly favorable, provided general business
conditions continue to be good. It seems entirely
possible that in 1950 the industry, together with
the plastics departments of plants in other indus­
tries, will be using all or nearly all of the increased
supply of materials expected to be available at that
time. This would mean a rate of output of plastics
products as much as 75 percent higher than in
the latter part of 1946, itself a record period. This
increase will not be achieved, however, unless the
use of plastics products is intensively promoted.
The rise in the output of the industry might vary
somewhat from the estimate of 75 percent, depend­
ing on how much of the expanded production
occurs in the plastics departments of plants in
other industries. There are some indications that
such departments may grow more rapidly than the
independent industry.
The demand for plastics products over a longer
period—for example the 5-to- 10-year period be­
ginning about 1950—will depend not only on the
rate of production of the present users of plastics,
but also to an increasingly important extent on
new applications by these and other industries.
After a few years, the demand for plastics
products for use in the electrical appliance and
radio industries will probably decline somewhat.
Nevertheless, these industries, as well as other
major consumers of plastics products, such as the
automobile industry, are expected to continue at
relatively high levels of production.
Further growth of the plastics products in­
dustry, however, will depend mainly on the new
uses that will be developed. As has previously
been indicated, many of the present industrial
consumers expect to develop new uses for plastics
parts in their products. This is especially true in
the construction, automobile, railroad equipment,




and household equipment industries. Some of the
new applications of plastics, which have been
deferred because of the shortage of materials, will
come on the market within the next few years.
Moreover, extensive research is continually in
progress in an effort to find additional uses for
plastics products and to develop new plastic
materials with properties which will create new
fields for plastics.
Prices of plastics products are especially im­
portant in the long-range outlook. For some time
there has been a downward trend in the prices of
plastic materials, especially in the newer materials,
such as polystyrene. Plastics prices, as a whole,
are still high compared with other materials, and
as a result many important markets are closed to
plastics products. As the production of the differ­
ent plastic materials increases, however, some
further price reductions are probable. Costs of
making plastics products may also decline because
of the increased efficiency of the newer machinery
and methods. Wider use of new methods, such
as low-pressure laminating, may open up some
new markets for plastics, because these processes
can produce larger and more intricate shapes.
To sum up, it seems likely that with develop­
ment of new markets for plastics products, and
with continued growth of population and national
income, a long-range upward trend in the volume
of output is in prospect. This growth, however,
will probably be much less rapid than the rate of
increase expected to occur in the next few years.
Technological Changes Affecting Employment

In order to estimate from the anticipated volume
of output how many workers will be employed in
the industry, it is necessary to consider prospective
technological changes which affect the quantity
each worker can produce.
The use of new equipment will considerably in­
crease output per worker. The many new ma­
chines delivered to the industry in the last 2 years
have been generally more efficient, faster, and
capable of molding larger pieces. A high pro­
portion of the new equipment consisted of injec­
tion-molding machines, which are faster than the
more widely used compression machines. The in­
dustry has begun to make greater use of fully auto­
matic machines; one semiskilled worker can
operate several of these machines simultaneously.
Moreover, many molding firms are modernizing
15

their old molding machines to obtain more efficient
operation.
It is also possible that the average order re­
ceived by molding plants will be larger in the
future, so that the plant will be able to make longer
production runs with less time out for changing
molds and materials. The end of the shortages of
materials will also permit more efficient operations.
Moreover, as the industry develops and as competi­
tion among plants becomes keener, the tendency
will be for the least efficient plants to close down.
Higher output per man in the industry as a whole
will result.
Other technological changes that will alfect em­
ployment include increased use of the faster trans­
fer-molding method and further application of
electronic preheating of molding preforms, which
has speeded up compression molding.
Partly offsetting technical advances will be the
probable reduction of the workweek. In the first
part of 1948, many plastics products workers were
on a 44- or 48-hour week. The tendency will be
to cut their hours to around 40.
All in all, since machinery and processes are
continually improving, output per worker in the
plastics products industry will rise considerably;
employment, therefore, is not expected to increase
as rapidly as production.

years will have good chances of continued employ­
ment over a long period.
It must be remembered, however, that the plas­
tics products industry will be relatively small,
even after the anticipated expansion. Normal re­
placement needs of each of such large industries
as automobiles, cotton textiles, or iron and steel
will create more job opportunities each year than
the combination of new jobs and replacements in
the plastics products industry.

Em ploym ent Outlook

Taking into account the prospects in production,
and allowing for the probable effects of technolog­
ical change, it wrould appear that a sharp increase
in the number of workers in the plastics products
industry is in store for the next 2 years. In 1950,
if the demand for plastic products is then as great
as expected, the number employed in the industry
may reach 75,000—an increase of 25,000 over em­
ployment at the end of 1946. Added to these new
jobs will be the openings created in the replace­
ment of those workers who die or retire, or who
leave the industry for one reason or another. Also,
plastics molding and laminating departments of
plants in other industries wbll hire additional
workers, and this will have the same general effect
on employment opportunities for plastics workers
as the expansion of the industry.
Looking further into the future, the prospects
are for a continued, but gradual, rise in employ­
ment. This is important, because it means that
those entering the industry during the next few
16



Preforming of plastic material into pellets preparatory to mold­
ing. Preform machine operator puts plastics material into the
hopper at one end of the machine; the pellets come out at
the other end.

Future opportunities in the plastics products in­
dustry cannot be measured solely by the number
of jobs; the types of w7ork are of equal impor­
tance. The fact is that most of the openings will
be for inexperienced persons, who will be trained
on the job for semiskilled or unskilled production
jobs in the molding and laminating plants. Earn­
ings, however, are about equal to those in manu­
facturing industries as a whole, and the working
conditions are generally satisfactory. The longrun growth of the industry will improve the

workers’ chances for promotion to better jobs.
In addition, there will be some openings for ap­
prentices to be trained for skilled jobs in the tool
rooms. There also will be vacancies for office and
maintenance help. A small number of persons
with engineering training will be hired for such
positions as production engineer and mold and
product designer. Some men will be hired as sales­

men—one of the better paying and more interest­
ing positions. Selling jobs, however, will still be
only a small part of the industry’s employment.
In recent years, many men have opened up small
molding plants. There will continue to be some
opportunities of this kind, but only for those who
have adequate capital and a thorough knowledge
of plastics production and marketing.

Training Opportunities for New Workers
On-the-Job Training

Trade Schools

As we have seen, most of the new workers who
will enter this industry will fill semiskilled or un­
skilled production jobs. These employees will in
most cases learn their jobs through relatively
short, informal, on-the-job training. Those in­
terested in obtaining such trainee jobs can consult
the nearest local office of their State employment
service or can apply directly to the plastics prod­
ucts companies. The addresses of plastics prod­
ucts plants in one’s community can be found in the
classified section of the local telephone book. A
list of molding and laminating firms and their
addresses may be obtained by writing to the
Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc., 295 Madison
AvenueJ New York 17, N. Y. Veterans may get
information about Government financial aid while
training, at the nearest office of the Veterans Ad­
ministration or at a Veterans Information Center.
Young men interested in training for the jobs
in the toolroom should investigate the possibilities
of apprenticeship. This is the main route to
skilled jobs, such as tool and die maker or ma­
chinist. Persons interested in apprenticeship can
consult the local office of their State employment
service or apply directly to the employers. Since
most tool and die makers and machinists are em­
ployed outside of the plastics products industry,
mainly in the metalworking industries, young men
can also apply to companies in those industries.
They may also write to, or visit, the local head­
quarters of unions which include machinists or
tool and die makers among their members.2

There are .a number of trade schools in the
plastics field—usually located in the larger cities.
These schools give training in the various branches
of the plastics industry and include in their courses
such subjects as properties and applications of
plastic materials, molding and laminating prac­
tices, and techniques of fabrication. The large
majority of employees in the plastics products
industry have not had these courses, nor are such
courses generally necessary to obtain jobs in the
industry, since the bulk of the jobs are learned
while working in the plants. However, training
in a good plastics trade school may be helpful for
those interested in becoming salesmen for plastics
molding firms. In some cases, for those already
working in the industry, training in a plastics trade
school may be helpful in obtaining promotions to
supervisory jobs. These courses may also be very
helpful for those who intend to open up small
fabricating businesses of their own.
A list of private plastics trade schools and in­
formation regarding the standing of these schools
can be obtained from the National Council of
Technical Schools, 839 17th Street NW., Washing­
ton 6, D. C. Names and addresses of schools may
also be obtained from the Society of the Plastics
Industry, Inc., 295 Madison Avenue, New York
17, N. Y.

2 Some of the more important of these unions are the Inter­
national Association of M achinists (independent), the United
Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (CIO), the
United Automobile, Aircraft, & Agricultural Implement Workers
of America (CIO), and the M echanics Educational Society of
America (independent).




Colleges and Universities

Specific courses in plastics are offered by a grow­
ing number of colleges and universities. Some
schools have separate courses in plastics ; others
provide instruction in plastics as part of broader
training in engineering or chemistry. However,
these courses are not usually needed for the profes­
17

sional jobs in the industry, since it has been the
custom to require only basic mechanical or chemi­
cal engineering training, the necessary specialized
knowledge of plastics being learned in the plant or
by home study.
Names and addresses of these schools and the
kinds of plastics courses given may be obtained
from the 1947 Modern Plastics Encyclopedia,

published by the Plastics Catalogue Corp., and
available in most main libraries. A list of col­
leges giving plastics courses is also obtainable from
the Society of the Plastics Industry. One may
get a list of accredited engineering schools from
the Engineers’ Council for Professional Develop­
ment, Engineering Societies Building, 29 West
39th Street, New York, N. Y.

Appendix A
Output of Plastics Products, 193 1 -45 1
Year

Value

1931______________________________ $20,900, 000
1935______________________________ 38,300, 000
1937___________________________________________
1939 ___________________________________________

67,700, 000
7 6 ,10o’ 000

1943 _____________________________ 261,000, 000
1944______________________________ 306,000,000
1945 ______________________________ 330, 000, 000
1 Data for 1931-39 are from the Census of M anufactures ; for 1943-45 from the Civilian Produc­
tion Adm inistration. The value of output includes plastics products made in plastics depart­
ments in plants of other industries, as well as in the plastics products industry.

Appendix B
Estimated Employment in the Plastics Products Industry1
Year

1937___________
1939___________
1943 ___________
1944 ________
1945 ________
1946 (December)

Number of employees

___ 16,900
___ 18,000
___ 36,800
___ 37,700
____ 42,000
___ 50,000

1 1937— estim ates are derived from the 1939 Census of M anufactures and from unpublished
46
data of the Bureau of Employment Security of the Social Security Adm inistration. E stim ates for
1943-46 may be slightly understated because in some States employment data for very small
establishm ents are not available to the Bureau of Employment Security.

The photographs reproduced in this bulletin are by courtesy of Boonton Molding Co.,

U. S. Office of Education, Shaw Insulator Co., and Modern Plastics.
18




Occupational Outlook Publications of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Studies of employment trends and opportunities in the various occupations and pro­
fessions are made by the Occupational Outlook Service of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Reports are prepared for use in the vocational guidance of veterans, young people in
schools, and others considering the choice of an occupation. Schools concerned with voca­
tional training and employers and trade-unions interested in on-the-job training have also
found the reports helpful in planning programs in line with prospective employment oppor­
tunities.
Two types of reports are issued:
Occupational outlook bulletins describe the long-run outlook for employment in each oc­
cupation and give information on earnings, working conditions, and the training required.
Special reports are issued from time to time on such subjects as the general employment
outlook, trends in the various States, and occupational mobility.
The reports are issued as bulletins of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and may be pur­
chased from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington 25, D. C.
Occupational Outlook Bulletins

Employment Opportunities for Diesel-Engine Mechanics

Bulletin No. 813 (1945), price 5 cents.

Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occupations, Part I—Postwar Employment Outlook

Bulletin No. 837-1 (1945), price 10 cents.

Employment Opportunities in Aviation Occupations, Part II—Duties, Qualifications, Earnings,
and Working Conditions

Bulletin No. 837-2 (1946), price 20 cents. Illustrated.

Employment Outlook for Automobile Mechanics

Bulletin No. 842 (1945), price 10 cents.

Employment Opportunities for Welders

Bulletin No. 844 (1945), price 10 cents.

Postwar Outlook for Physicians

Bulletin No. 863 (1946), price 10 cents.

Employment Outlook in Foundry Occupations

Bulletin No. 880 (1946), price 15 cents. Illustrated.

Employment Outlook for Business-Machine Servicemen

Bulletin No. 892 (1947), price 15 cents. Illustrated.

Employment Outlook in Machine-Shop Occupations

Bulletin No. 895 (1947), price 20 cents. Illustrated.

Employment Outlook in Printing Occupations

Bulletin No. 902 (1947), price 20 cents. Illustrated.

Employment Outlook in Hotel Occupations

Bulletin No. 905 (1947), price 10 cents. Illustrated.




19

Special Bulletins

Occupational Data for Counselors, a Handbook of Census Information Selected for Use in
Guidance

Bulletin No. 817 (1945), price 10 cents. (Prepared jointly with the Occupational Infor­
mation and Guidance Service, U. S. Office of Education.)

Factors Affecting Earnings in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Bulletin No. 881 (1946), price 10 cents.

State and Regional Variations in Prospective labor Supply

Bulletin No. 893 (1947), price 15 cents.

Labor in the South

Bulletin No. 898 (1947), price 35 cents.

Recent Occupational Trends

Serial No. R 1902 (1947). Limited supply available for free distribution. Order
directly from Bureau of Labor Statistics.

20




U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1948


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102