Jobs in the chemical sector have declined by 4.8% compared with the same time last year as part of a broader contraction in U.S. employment, according to the Department of Labor. The manufacturing sector in general saw the steepest decline in jobs -- 12.3%. In the chemical sector, production cutbacks are a big factor, said T. Kevin Swift, chief economist for the American Chemistry Council. "The number of production workers and how many hours they work during the week are a good proxy for production," he said.

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