SIC 3241

Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing hydraulic cement, including portland, natural, masonry, and pozzolana cements.

NAICS Code(s)

327310 (Cement Manufacturing)

Cement is manufactured by grinding minerals, typically a controlled mix of limestone and clay, in either a wet or a dry environment. The ground material is then heated in a kiln, chemically changing it into a substance called "clinker" that is cooled and reground with additional minerals such as gypsum. This leaves a finished powder—the cement itself—that reacts with water and can be mixed with gravel or sand to create concrete.

In the late 1990s the United States produced 75 million metric tons of portland cement, which accounted for 90 percent of this industry's output, and consumed 86 million metric tons. U.S. cement makers shipped more than $7 billion worth of hydraulic cement in 2000. The U.S. cement industry ranked third largest in the world, following China and Japan. Growth in the industry was fueled by general strength in the economy, particularly the robust construction industry of the late 1990s.

Cement is used in a variety of construction-related industries, particularly in building and roadway construction. In the mid-1990s buildings commanded roughly 55 percent of U.S. cement consumption, followed by streets and highways at 29 percent, water systems at 9 percent, and miscellaneous construction and nonconstruction uses at 7 percent.

The industry, which runs an annual trade deficit, has significantly reduced its reliance on imports as a proportion of consumption since the mid-1980s, when import volume was as much as 20 times greater than export volume. In the mid-1990s imports declined and exports increased, bringing the deficit down to less than a factor of 10. In the late 1990s, prices were continuing to increase.

Industry employment dropped steadily since the 1970s due to automation and a decline of small producers. Approaching the twenty-first century, the industry was expected to increase employment levels by more than 10 percent, however, in three occupations: industrial machinery mechanics, sales workers, and industrial production managers. Most other occupations were expected to face reductions; those most significantly affected were hand packers, furnace operators, secretaries, and crushing and mixing machine operators. Between 1997 and 2000, total industry employment increased from 16,925 to 17,188. The number of production workers increased from 12,496 to 12,725 over the same time period.

In the late 1990s approximately 279 establishments manufactured cement throughout the United States. Plants were typically located near the regional market they served to minimize transportation costs. During the late 1990s construction boom, cement plants operated at just over 90 percent capacity. The Portland Cement Association (PCA) estimated that 65 percent of U.S. cement capacity was held by foreign companies.

With $2.4 billion in 1999 revenues, Lafarge Corporation of Reston, Virginia, was the industry leader. Second was CBR-HCI Construction Materials Inc. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, with $1.4 billion. Third was Holnam Inc. of Dundee, Michigan, with $1.1 billion. In 2000 approximately 17,100 workers were employed by the industry, of which 12,700 were in production. The average work week was 43.7 hours with 5.6 hours of overtime, and the average salary was $20 per hour.

Further Reading

Bureau of the Census. Economic Census 1997. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1999. Available from .

Employment Statistics. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2000. Available from .

Portland Cement Association Homepage. Skokie, IL: 1997. Available from .

Thomas, William D., et al."Producer Price Highlights 1998." Monthly Labor Review, July 1999.

United States Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industries and Industry Groups: 2000." Annual Survey of Manufacturers. February 2002. Available from .

U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook '99. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 1999.

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