BEER: A job-creating engine in the nation’s economy

As Americans gather this Labor Day in backyards, at lake cabins and in ballparks, they’ll only need to look as far as the beer in their hand to pay homage to our nation’s workforce.

The U.S. brewing and beer importing industry puts more than two million Americans to work. A recently analysis completed by the Beer Institute found that every one job inside a brewery supports another 45 jobs outside the brewery – among industries such as farming, can- and bottle-manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, distribution and retail.

It isn’t difficult to see how brewing creates demand for jobs outside the brewery. Agriculture – just one industry of the many that are involved in brewing – is a great example.

Every year, brewers and beer importers buy billions of pounds of barley malt from farmers in more than a dozen states. Those same brewers and beer importers buy 1.5 billion pounds of rice, corn and other grains used to brew beer, and another 119 million pounds of hops. It takes nearly 56,000 people to cultivate and harvest these brewing staples.

These jobs add up to a significant benefit to the economy. All told, Americans whose work is either directly or indirectly connected to brewing are paid more than $79 billion annually in wages and benefits, according to our Beer Serves America study. The economic contribution of beer to the nation’s economy is estimated at more than $246 billion – a figure that demonstrates the remarkable ripple effect the beer industry on other sectors of the economy.

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Part of the reason why beer makes that significant of an impact is simply because of its popularity. Beer is welcome at more occasions, because its low alcohol content makes it a sensible choice. A recent Gallup poll found that 41 percent of U.S. drinkers reported that they typically drink beer (31 percent named wine and 23 percent named hard liquor).

This should be no surprise. Beer is an affordable luxury for many everyday Americans at a time when unemployment and household incomes have failed to rebound after the recession. The New York Times reported last week that the typical American family household income declined by 3.1 percent over the last five years – a drag not just on my industry, but on every industry that wants to see a more robust economy helping the incomes of everyday working Americans.

While Labor Day is a day for all American workers, today’s brewers and beer importers capture the spirit of this holiday as well as any. From farmers to factory hands, from brewery workers to bartenders, the beer industry symbolizes the diversity of the American workforce and just how much one sector depends on another.

As you walk into this holiday weekend, I ask of you two things. First, drink responsibly. Second, when you reach into a cooler or across a bar for a beer, join me in toasting the two million Americans that are at work today because of beer.

Jim McGreevy is President and CEO of the Beer Institute, the trade association that represents America’s brewers, beer importers and supplying industries. Find out more at www.beerinstitute.org.

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