Actually, this post is not about just one word. There are at least four: plastics, yes, but also textiles, electricity, and ice cream.
As we discussed in the previous post, many sectors of the economy, with their specific products and processes, contribute to the nation’s overall industrial production. This graph traces the relative contributions of four more components from FRED’s 322 series in this category.
Over the past 45 years shown in the graph, the production of plastics has grown in importance pretty consistently; someone in, say, 1967 who invested in that industry might have seen a nice return. With some peaks and valleys, electric power generation has become demonstrably more important, too. And its growth has been largely countercyclical—that is, it revs up through each postwar recession. Textile mills, on the other hand, have been declining in importance in U.S. industrial production for the entire time this data series has been calculated.
And what to make of ice cream? The previous post traced the progress of cheese, another wonderful edible good. And just like cheese, ice cream is a very small part of U.S. industrial production but its degree of importance has remained deliciously tried and true (though these series are seasonally adjusted, which matters most for ice cream).
How this graph was created: Search for “Relative Importance Weights”: As noted above, you’ll find 322 series to choose from. Check the measures you want and click “Add to Graph.”
Suggested by George Fortier.